Some sciencey dissertation talk – I’m feeling good about this!

I had a nerve wracking, gut wrenching morning yesterday as I pored over dissertation data that was messed up – it just didn’t make sense. Some scales were beautifully normally distributed but completely unreliable, others were showing me a mirror image, backwards effect from what past literature told me to expect. Something was WRONG. I contacted the techy guy I have running my survey program for me in New York (I’m a Canadian collecting American data), and asked him to send me the absolute raw data – no fancy scripts used in the export file, not even changed from the raw labels (e.g., “strongly agree” before it gets changed to a computable value of “5”). He got me the file by 7pm, but I was putting Avery to bed and wasn’t out of her room until 9 (poor little bug has been taking a long time to fall asleep lately, writhing around itching her eczema flare up). I worked on that file until after midnight, and started up again as soon as I’d dropped Avery off at daycare this morning. By 10am, I had solved the mystery through careful detective work and meticulously doing by hand all coding and reverse scoring. The data was fine! The messed up appearance was caused by an error made by my techy survey software guy when he wrote script to code and reverse score before exporting to me.

That felt good.

What felt even better? The data was better than fine. It was AMAZING. I’m collecting my data in batches so I can ensure it’s all going to plan before spending ALL THE MONEY on the full sample; in the mere 79 person sample I have right now, I was actually getting significant effects on two of my hypotheses. For anyone who knows stats, you know how AWESOME this is. Not to mention the validation I feel in the face of two of my committee members who approved my proposal despite admitting their utter skepticism that I’d find any effects. So now I’m in full-steam-ahead recruiting mode for batch two, and if everything still looks good when I look at that, I’ll be able to finish data collection in 6 weeks. I mean, my original goal was to start collecting in September and get it all in 2 weeks, but we all hit bumps in the road when dissertating. It ALWAYS takes longer than we expect.

But I least my hypotheses are being supported. Go me!


On being an inspiring family

We received a thank-you card from a couple who’s wedding we attended this summer. They’re a gorgeous-inside-and-out same-sex couple, and we were so excited to be witness to their wedding vows. They were our first same-sex wedding experience besides our own. We were also so thankful to have Avery with us, witnessing two women, both in stunning white dresses, exchanging marriage vows. It probably won’t be a memory that lasts for her, but it’s a view of the world we want her to have from a young age.

Anyway, in the thank-you card, they wrote that they have looked up to our family. That surprised me. I’ve always felt like I’m just trying to live my normal life. In fact, I’ve felt extra typical and normative since settling down and starting a family. Getting married was easy for us – the laws permitted it, our social network supported it, and it felt like we were just doing what was expected of us. Having a baby was the same. We found an incredibly easy route to having a baby. We had no insurmountable or overly significant roadblocks. Conception for us was free. Again, it felt like we were just doing what society expected of a couple who had just gotten married.

The fact that I feel this way is a testament to the pioneering Queer people who fought for these rights in a time when marriage and conceiving children was not expected of them. So I feel like a bit of a fraud being someone’s inspiration for marrying their same sex partner and planning to have a child together. But at the same time, I feel excited by the fact that we are fulfilling and carrying on the legacy that our Queer foremothers and forefathers created for us. I feel so normal doing something once considered so extreme.

10 Favourite Fall Recipes

I LOVE Fall cooking. I find summer cooking is a lot more expensive as a meat eater – even though we grow a lot of our own vegetables – because we grill a lot of meats. We’re big on BBQ season. But in the Fall, the meats we eat switch to whole roast chickens and ducks, or slowly roasted beef. We also eat a lot more vegetarian meals in the fall, simply because warm curries, hashes, or soups don’t really need meat to be delicious. We’re also fans of Moroccan flavours in my family, so when Butternut Squash and sweet potatoes and other sweet and savoury produce is in season, we go nuts with it. Here are 10 of my current favourite fall recipes – all have been tested (and cooked multiple times) by me.





Fried Rice

Fried Rice
By Gimme Some Oven



Shepherd’s Pie
By Girl Gone Gourmet


piri piri

Piri Piri Chicken (with roasted potatoes and rocket/green salad)
By Jamie Oliver




Savoury Cheddar Waffles with Pomegranate Pulled Pork
By Chatelaine
(I use the Joy of Cooking waffle recipe and toss in cheddar, but pork recipe also links to a waffle recipe)



Chicken Korma
By Savory & Sweet Food



“Your startup disk is almost full”

I don’t really know computers that well. I rely on my computer for all of my PhD work, and it stresses me out that I don’t know how to keep my computer running well in times of need. For a long time now, my mac has been giving me a pop-up warning that says, “your startup disk is almost full.” Recently, it has been crashing. I’ve had to get in the habit of saving my large data files every couple of minutes because excel and SPSS (my stats software) are crashing. Microsoft word is crashing. This is terrifying for someone who’s life’s work is wrapped up in these three programs. I back-up to dropbox, but I’m still terrified.

And today I am so frustrated that I cried. I finally got round one of my dissertation data, and I need to clean it and analyze it before collecting the next round of data. My programs won’t stay open long enough to work on analysis. I googled how to clean my startup disk, and it seems that no matter what I delete, no space opens up. My storage is taken up by a category called, “other”. I have no idea what’s taking up my entire hard drive, and I don’t know how to get rid of it. I feel helpless. I am eating chocolate and pouting and hoping that it will miraculously cure itself.

Any help will be gladly accepted.

“The ghost is here.” And other haunting musings from my 2 year old

Avery is really into ghosts right now. And by that I mean, she claims to see one in our house… We’ve been reading her Halloween books to get her in the spirit of the upcoming holiday, but in those books the ghosts are just a kid or a farm animal with a sheet over their head. Paw Patrol also has at least one ghost episode, but the ghost gets debunked (and again, it’s pretty obviously just Marshall with a sheet on his head).

So the fact that she’s talking about a ghost in our house as some invisible entity that she can point at but we can’t see is highly unsettling. I don’t believe in ghosts, but the idea of them still terrifies me. My imagination has always been strong, and my logical brain has to work really hard to make it so I don’t need to sleep with a light on.

Avery’s ghost talk started with a creepy afternoon ghost sighting while we were playing in the living room. She stopped what she was doing, pointed at the bottom of the stairs, and said, “ghost downstairs.”

My knee jerk reaction was to try to saying something to keep her from being scared. I said, “there’s no ghost. Ghosts are just on TV.” I now don’t know if this was the best response; maybe I should have validated her more and inquired about what she saw, but I didn’t want to encourage something that might end up scaring her.

But she’s not scared. The next day, when she was sitting on the toilet in our upstairs bathroom, she pointed at the open doorway and said “ghost right there!” She was super calm and matter-of-fact about it. Again, my response was, “there’s not ghost. Ghosts are just on TV.” Despite the calm tone I tried to present, I was feeling disturbed at this point.

The creepiest time to hear these comments are in her bedroom at night. My wife and I take turns laying with her in the dark for up to an hour while she falls asleep. It was my night to do bedtime, and from the dark she whispered, “ghost.” I could see in the faint light coming in from under the door that her arm was up and her finger was pointing. Then she said, “ghost flying around Avery’s bed.”

It took all the adult self-control and reassuring techniques I could conjure to stay in her room.

Now that she has caught on to our canned reassuring line that “ghosts are just on TV,” she prefaces her ghost sightings by acknowledging that there isn’t really a ghost. Instead of just, “I see a ghost,” she now says, “Ghosts are just on TV. No ghost beside Avery’s bed.” But why so specific about where this non-existent ghost is standing???

The Co-Working Parent Childcare Cooperative

Today Avery and I checked out the open house for a brand new childcare option that is starting up literally just down the street from my house. It’s a very cool, community-minded business started by a mom & dad duo who are utilizing the first floor of their home as a blend of rented office space and on-site childcare.

The first thing I noticed as we pulled up in our stroller was the rainbow (inclusive to diverse families) sticker and the “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” sticker in the window. Off to a good start.

The front room of the house is a beautiful, 100 year old living room turned office space. There are three small desks and a large boardroom table. The back room is the play area, where a certified early childhood educator watches the kids. These two areas are separated by a kitchen where the coffee and tea are free and flowing, and snacks can be stored and prepared. The kids are kept out of their working parents’ hair by two baby gates.

Since Avery’s daycare provider only offers Monday – Thursday care, I haven’t been able to work on Fridays (and Avery gets bored at home with me all day on Fridays). This new co-working parent cooperative is totally flexible to one day per week schedules, and actually functions in 3-hour timeslots. Avery and I are going to do a trial day next week, and if it works for us, we might start doing a regular Friday morning timeslot. When she no longer needs an afternoon nap, we could easily do two 3-hour timeslots, walking the 2 minutes home over lunch while they’re closed from 12-1.

I’m hopeful that this arrangement works for us, because I’ve loved co-working arrangements in the past. It helps me to feel motivated when I’m paying to get work done somewhere; I like having a reason to get dressed for a work day instead of lounging in sweats all day; and the company of other parents makes me feel less alone as someone who is balancing work and parenting.

I love my neighbourhood. First a coffee shop/brewery opens up a block and a half away in my little residential neighborhood, and now this, a block and a half in the other direction. We’re never moving.

Canadian Thanksgiving and other random updates

I’m not exactly keeping up with the daily posts for #blogtober, so far… But it’s because we’ve been away for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend and bouncing from one family gathering to the next. At my in-laws, Avery got to spend quality time with her two cousins. One is just 5 months older than her, and the other is 2 months old. She gives her baby cousin gentle kisses on the head, and she strokes her little arms and legs and touches her fingers and toes. She’ll just sit next to her and watch her with a look of wonder and tenderness in her eye. So that makes us definitely want to give her a sibling.

When we leave family get togethers, we almost always rant for half an hour in the car as we drive away, or one of us will be crying from something a family member said or did. Family. It’s complicated.

In other news, I’m anxiously awaiting my PhD data… Data I have collected so far has not looked as expected, which is not good. It’s taking longer than I expected to collect, too. Right now we’re (loosely) planning to have baby #2 after I’ve worked for the minimum of 600 hours required to collect employment insurance. To work, I need to first get a job. To get a job, I need to first defend my dissertation. To defend, I need to write it. To write it, I need data. Data that works out for my hypotheses. So there’s a lot of pressure on getting that data collected and getting it to work out for me.

And that’s pretty much all that life involves right now – family stuff and school pressure. Thankfully, we have an amazing kid to help us find joy in the everyday moments.