A Day as Mama and Data Manager

Welcome to the March 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Day in the Life

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have given us a special glimpse into their everyday.

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There are three main things I do in my day-to-day life: mothering Lydia (10 months old) and Nicholas (10 years old), working 40 hours a week as the data manager of a social science research study, and writing this Handbook.  I write quite a bit about the first activity, and if you are reading this you’re obviously aware of the third.  But I’ve written very little about my job.  What is a “data manager of a social science research study,” anyway?

My job is to organize the HUGE PILES OF DATA collected by interviewing 1,517 men every 6 months for 4 years, then every year for 9 years, and 3 more times since then (whenever we got a grant to follow up).  Other people do the interviews; I just work with the data.  The study started when the guys were in elementary school.  They answered questions for about 2 hours each time, and in the early years their parents and teachers were interviewed, too.  Each person’s answer to each question is encoded as a number in a data file, which looks like a spreadsheet.  The row is the data on that participant, who is identified by a 5-digit number.  The column is the question, which is identified by a string of 8 letters and numbers.  There is a separate data file for each questionnaire, each time it was asked; each data file has a name, also 8 letters and numbers.  There are patterns to these 8-character strings, which I can “read” and remember very easily after 16 years working for the study.

In addition to organizing the data from the interviews, I make variables called “constructs”, each of which represents an idea that is measured by a bunch of different questions.  I write computer programs that do arithmetic and algebra with the “raw data” from the questions to create the constructs.  For example, the construct Parental Stress sums up the parent’s answers to these 14 questions; a parent with a score of 14 is exceptionally calm, while a parent with a score of 70 is a frazzled wreck.  My programs attach labels to the constructs and their values so we can keep track of what all the numeric values and 8-letter-and-number variable names mean.  (No, “frazzled wreck” is not the actual value label!  It’s “very high stress”.)

So, it’s my job to know what questions we asked, how the answers were coded, what constructs were made, and where everything is in thousands and thousands of data files.  I also spend a lot of time looking for things that don’t make sense, figuring out what’s wrong, and fixing it.  The higher-level statistical analysis is done by other people, as well as most of the writing of papers about our findings–but because I like to write and am a grammar zealot, they often ask me to proofread and sometimes let me write a section.

The main focus of the study is juvenile delinquency: which boys do it in the first place, which ones outgrow it rather than becoming adult criminals, and what factors make crime more or less likely.  We also have lots of data on mental health, substance use, parenting practices, and demographics.  Interesting stuff!  I love my job.  I’m surprised I managed to summarize it this briefly!  Okay, let’s get on with A Typical Day In My Life….

Midnight.

I am in the basement, taking laundry out of the dryer.  It’s mostly cloth diapers that already dried on the racks for two days and just needed fluffing, but I also washed Nick’s new pajamas (along with a load of clothes, most of which I hung on the clothesline) and put them in the dryer so they’ll be ready for him to wear tonight and I won’t hear any more excuses about why he has to wear the day’s dirty clothes to bed.

Bring laundry upstairs.  Fold pajamas and place them invitingly on the end table in the living room, where he’ll see them in the morning.  Put basket of diapers in Lydia’s changing room–a small storage room off the kitchen.  (Read all about why Lydia doesn’t have a bedroom, and what we’re doing instead, here.)  Take baby-bottle drying rack off top shelf in changing room and place on kitchen counter.  Turn on hot-water tap and, while waiting for water to get hot, spray cheese sauce off of pot from dinner.  Clean the sink.  Fill with hot soapy water about an inch deep.  Wash the 4 bottles Lydia used today, and put them in baby-bottle drying rack.  Open Nick’s lunchbox, discover uneaten chunk of Raisin Bran Bread, put it on a plate, heat in microwave, spread coconut oil on it, and eat it while lunchbox is soaking in the sink.  Wash lunchbox and plate; place in dish drainer.  Put baby-bottle drying rack back in changing room.

12:40 a.m.

Brush teeth.  Take vitamins.  Drink a big glass of water to sustain me through a night of making milk and breathing heat-vent air–it’s cold, so the furnace is running often.  Slather my hands with olive oil and briefly rub it in.  Go into dining room and move Lydia from the middle of the bed to the side.  Turn off kitchen light, get into bed, and lie there rubbing my hands until I’m ready to go to sleep.

2:15 a.m.

Lydia is complaining.  Wake up just enough to pull up my pajama top and get her started nursing.  Drowse.  When she’s done, pull down top and go completely back to sleep.

5:05 a.m.

Repeat the above.

6:15 a.m.

Daniel comes downstairs to start the coffee.  Say, “Good morning,” and go back to sleep.

6:30 a.m.

Clock-radio starts playing classical music of a style that I picture as elephants playing their trunks.  Get up.  Put on bathrobe and extra socks.  Turn off elephants.  Go into kitchen, pour a little bottled lemon juice into a glass, and add water.  Sip this as I walk around opening the drapes.  (I’ve read that lemon-water first thing in the morning has all the amazing benefits.  I’m going to try it for a month.  So far I’m not very impressed.)

Go upstairs to Nick’s room and say loudly, “Good morning!  Time to get up!  Time to take a shower!”  He sits up and looks blearily at me.  This is a lucky day: first time in a week he hasn’t launched an elaborate argument about why he shouldn’t have to take a shower at the scheduled time.

Back downstairs, put some frozen berries in a bowl and heat in microwave.  Pour coffee and add milk.  Add yogurt and granola to berries.  Put breakfast on dining room table.  Go to foot of stairs and make sure I hear the shower running.

Lydia sits up in bed, smiling alertly.  Say, “Good morning!” to her and go into changing room to get her dry diaper, waterproof diaper cover, flushable diaper liner, cloth wipe, and velour top and pants set.  Changing room is painfully cold.  (This room is a former porch that overhangs the back yard, high enough that you can walk under it; we added insulation to the floor and walls, but still it gets really cold in extreme winter!)  Pick up changing pad which I’ve stashed in corner of dining room so it stays warm, and put everything on kitchen floor in front of sink.  Get Lydia and place her on changing pad.  Moisten wipe in kitchen sink.  Change diaper.  Change her clothes.  Take wet diaper to diaper pail and dirty pajamas to laundry basket in changing room.

6:52 a.m.

Turn on bedside lamp, pull toys out from under bedside table, and place Lydia next to them.  Warm up coffee.  Start eating breakfast and reading a little more of Sunday’s newspaper (it lasts me most of the week).  Lydia crawls away from toys and begins pulling cookbooks out of shelf.

6:58 a.m.

Lydia is under the table, standing up and bouncing, despite a dozen recent experiences demonstrating that this leads to head-bonking.  Carefully extract her from under table and place her in my lap.  Try to chop berries with edge of spoon into small enough pieces for her.  Feed her some small bites of berries and yogurt, in between taking my own bites.

7:10 a.m.

Daniel comes downstairs and starts packing Nick’s lunch.

Lydia gets off my lap and starts playing with her wooden bus and 10 peg people–which mostly means rolling the people across the floor and crawling to get them.

Nick comes in and asks for a bowl of Cheerios with honey.  I know he could get this for himself, but I fix it for him to reward the polite asking.  Talk with him about plans for the day.  He has misplaced his swim bag (they have swimming once a week in school) and needs to remember to check Lost & Found.

7:20 a.m.

Rinse my dishes.  Carry Lydia upstairs, place her on bathroom floor, and give her a few bath toys, saying, “Ooooohh!” so she’ll know they are interesting.  Wash the most crucial parts of my body at the bathtub faucet.  (I alternate shower days with Nicholas.)  Brush teeth.  Stop Lydia from ripping leaves off potted plant.  Put in contact lenses.  Put away bath toys.

Take Lydia into bedroom.  Hand her my stuffed bunny.  Put on panties, nursing camisole, footie socks, leggings, long-sleeved knit top, crew socks, sweater, and jeans.  So many clothes–this always takes longer than I think it will!  Smooth top part of hair, which is still braided from yesterday.  Brush bottom part of hair.

7:40 a.m.

Daniel is outside shoveling snow off our sidewalk.  Nicholas is freaking out at possibility of being late for school if he walks as carefully as icy conditions may require.  He and I put on coats and hats and shoes while trying to keep Lydia from crawling to the front door–she doesn’t want to be left behind.  Hand her over to Daniel when he comes in.

I walk with Nicholas to the corner of our block, and then he walks the rest of the way to school by himself; it’s the current phase in a progression of separating a little more each year.  As we walk, we sing, “This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made”.  Each day this week, the Lord has given us a different combination of snowiness, slipperiness, and sogginess.  (Photos below were taken on the prettiest day of the week.)  We’re ready for spring!

7:50 a.m.

Daniel has packed Lydia’s milk and ice pack in her insulated bag and my ice pack in my insulated milk bag, which he points out is otherwise empty; it should have milk storage bottles in it.  I put caps on 2 bottles and put them in that bag, then pack my lunch in my other insulated bag: Pyrex bowl of Mexican beans, baby-food jar of guacamole, spoon; toss some corn chips into a plastic tub.  Put Lydia’s milk bag inside her diaper bag and carry all the bags to the chair near the front door.  Quickly pick up toys and put cookbooks back in shelf.  Stuff Lydia into her coat and then into the sling carrier.  Put on my coat and hat and shoes again.  Pick up diaper bag, lunch bag, my milk bag, and purse.  Kiss Daniel goodbye.

P1010727Walk 2 blocks to bus stop.  We can see the bus only a block away, but it takes almost 10 minutes to get to us because traffic is struggling so slowly uphill in the snow.  Lydia and I pass the time by beeping noses and making silly faces at each other.  The bus is crowded with downtown workers and college students, but someone gets up to give us a seat near the front; I pull all the bags into my lap so that we only take up one seat.

8:25 a.m.

Get off bus and walk half a block to babysitter’s house.  Nurse Lydia while chatting with sitter.  This is one of my favorite parts of the day because it feels like a long, relaxed conversation but actually takes only a short time.

8:40 a.m.

Lydia recently learned to wave and sometimes even says, “Bye!” as I leave the sitter’s, pausing to wave to her from certain points on the sidewalk, exactly the same points where I used to wave to Nicholas when he was a baby going to the same sitter.

P1010729Walk half a block and cross street to bus stop.  Get on a bus.  They come frequently at this stop but are often packed with people so that I have to stand.  Ride through the campus of Carnegie Mellon University (my alma mater), get off at the Carnegie Museum (pictured at right), and walk 4 blocks to work.

9:10 a.m.

Enter office building.  Take off hat and smooth my hair, using mirrored wall in elevator.  Clip magnetic ID badge to jeans pocket; it unlocks the door of my office suite.  Unlock my office with key.  Log in to computer, then go to kitchen to wash hands and fill my electric kettle.  Make peppermint tea while checking email.  My study is part of a giant megaconglomerate “health system” that sends a daily e-newsletter to employees.  Today it informs me that Friday is Employee Appreciation Day, when I may trek half a mile through the snow to one of the hospitals to receive my appreciation in the form of . . . ice cream.  Newsletter also urges me to watch brief video appreciating employees who clean hospitals.  Watch it, realizing that in my experiences as a patient, the hospitals seem cleaner lately than they did about a decade ago, and feel appreciation–even though video does not show any of the disgusting things that I know hospital cleaning people have to deal with; everything they’re cleaning appears already clean.

9:30 a.m.

P1010739Read note I wrote myself before leaving last night.  Open syntax file (computer program) for Conduct Disorder constructs at Phase O, make one last correction, run it, and check frequency tables–these show me how many people gave each answer.  (In the photo are simple constructs with values of 0 for “no” and 1 for “yes”.  For the first construct, 430 people have a value of “no”, 22 are “yes”, and 54 are “system missing” which means they are part of the group interviewed but they personally didn’t get interviewed at Phase O–they refused, or they’d moved and couldn’t be located, or something.

Phase O is correct now.  (A “phase” is one round of interviews.  Phases are in alphabetical order, eventually going to double letters.)  Save it and start checking Phases Y, Z, and CC.  These constructs were made by my previous assistant while I was on maternity leave; I’m still catching up on checking all the work he did.

My new assistant, a college student who works part-time, arrives and checks in with me before going to her desk across the hall.  She is entering information about recently-made constructs into our database.  (Yes, we have an entire database to keep track of our data!)

10:40 a.m.

Boss comes in to ask if we still have original copies of autopsy reports on participants who died prior to law that says we can’t have autopsy reports unless we get the dead person to sign a form.  Yeah, I think we do, why?  Statistician has noticed that a guy, whom we’d coded as being shot dead in a 1993 gang fight, was arrested in 2003 according to court records; we need to compare identifying details to determine which of these reports is the wrong guy.

I roam all over our office suite and our first-floor room packed with filing cabinets, looking for autopsy reports, but can’t find them.  In the main file for the participant, I find a copy of the police report about the homicide.  In my own file cabinet, I find copies of newspaper articles about it.  I compare these to the name and birthdate he gave us.  Uh oh!  Our guy would have been 18 on that date in 1993; newspapers say victim was 16.  Spelling of his name varies among news articles, but they say he went by his middle name; we have that name as his first, with a middle name which is different from the first name in the news; name on police report matches one of the names in the news.  Our guy was already coded as dead when I was put in charge of death data in 2001, so I’m not the one who identified him, but I should have noticed this!  Feel guilty.  Report information to boss.

11:25 a.m.

Put “Please come back in 20 minutes” sign on office door, lock it, and set up breast pump.  Look at motherly things on Web while pumping.  Pour milk into storage bottle.  Wrap pump parts in dish towel and put inside the pump bag, which I keep under my table when not in use.

11:40 a.m.

It’s early for lunch, but I’m hungry!  Set up chips and guacamole on my desk.  Take milk bag, water cup, and dish of beans to kitchen.  Put ice pack in freezer, milk in bag in refrigerator, and beans in microwave.  Go to water fountain in hallway to fill cup.  Bring beans back to my office.  While eating lunch, link up my Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake recipe to Works-for-Me Wednesday and browse the other posts linked there, then start writing this post.

12:30 p.m.

Finish checking those constructs from this morning.

Boss tells me that our participant’s name and birthdate match the 2003 court records almost exactly (birthdate is off by a few days) so he must be the guy arrested in 2003 rather than the one killed in 1993.  It is my job to bring this man back from the dead.  Recode him to -6 “not dead” on every variable in the Deaths data file, which has stuff like the date and cause of death.  Replace the case story (narrative description of his death, based on all sources of information we have) with an explanation of how he was mistakenly identified, in the Deaths text file.  Make similar changes in the Shootings data and text files that cover all times participants were shot, whether fatally or not.  Remove his number from Homicide List text file, which simply lists the ID numbers of all participants in each category: killed, convicted of killing, accused of killing but not convicted, etc.

Am I glad he’s not dead?  Well, yes and no.  I mean, somebody was killed on that street corner; it was a tragic waste of a 16-year-old boy whose mother probably loved him even if he was running with a gang.  That really happened, and I’m still sad about it.  The fact that our guy survived to commit crimes is not exactly heartening.  I hope he also did some good things I don’t know about.

As far as our work is concerned, this is an annoying setback: We included this guy’s data in analyses of what predicts who will become a homicide victim, so now there’s a flaw in the extensive work we did on that.  (But this guy is very similar to what we identified as typical for victims, so at least he didn’t skew the data.)  It’s lucky that he’s in the middle age group, the one that was set aside in favor of concentrating efforts on the youngest and oldest groups; if he wasn’t, we would’ve lost years of interviews with him during the time we thought he was dead and didn’t attempt to find him.

This particular type of correction is very unusual–I’ve done it only once before–but we often make corrections to data we’ve already used in published research.  When we find something wrong, we fix it–because the alternative is continuing to work with data you know to be incorrect, and that would be even more wrong than having an error in the first place.

1:55 p.m.

After performing a resurrection, I am tired and hungry!  Make coffee and instant oatmeal.  Start making Self-Reported Conduct Disorder Symptoms constructs at Phase DD, the only phase that hasn’t been made yet.

Hey . . . I can’t make all of the Symptoms that were made at Phase CC.  Some of the questions that I need weren’t asked at DD.  At first that seems okay because there’s a comment at the top of the CC syntax saying that some Symptoms couldn’t be made at CC either.  But then I’m looking at this part:

*Conduct Disorder Diagnosis gets a value of 1 if he had >2 symptoms, 2 if he had >5 symptoms.

COMPUTE RYCC1545=RYCC1544.

RECODE RYCC1545 (1 2=0) (2 3 4 5=1) (6 thru 13=2).

RYCC1544 is the construct Total Number of Symptoms, which here is getting recoded to make Diagnosis, RYCC1545.  But at CC we asked about only 10 symptoms instead of 13 . . . so is it fair that the guys still have to have 2 symptoms to get classified as having minor Conduct Disorder, and 5 for major? . . . because what if they also have those 3 symptoms we didn’t ask about? . . . Look at several other phases to see how this was handled.  Find a big hodgepodge: Anywhere from 7 to 13 Symptom constructs are made at a phase.  Also notice that Phases H-AA use a different standard than the others for handling cases where some answers are missing.  This is not right!  It should be consistent.

Explain the whole thing to my boss.  He is flabbergasted that anybody ever made a Diagnosis construct from the Self-Report: “These aren’t diagnostic data!  Number of Symptoms is what we used in the paper.”  He tells me to get rid of that Diagnosis construct, put value labels on Number of Symptoms so it’s very clear what is the maximum score for each phase, and standardize the handling of missing data.  I write this all up in the Construct Streamlining Form (an electronic document I invented for tracking creation of construct files and all changes made to them) and copy the existing data and syntax files to an archive folder.  I am going to have to correct every phase; this gives me a feeling of combined exasperation and “I am so useful, making things better!”  Finish making Phase DD, with the changes.

3:00 p.m.

Get milk bag and ice pack from kitchen.  Pump.  Wash pump parts and spread them out to dry on a dish towel on top of my file cabinet.

3:20 p.m.

Work on construct corrections.  Make a list of all the changes I need to make in each phase so I don’t forget any steps.  Complete 5 phases before it’s time to go home.

5:10 p.m.

Put coffee grounds in my office compost bin.  Wash percolator, coffee mug, oatmeal mug, and spoon, and put them to dry on the file cabinet.  Gather my things and walk to bus stop.  This time, I get a seat on the bus and can read a little of the book in my lunch bag: A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin.

5:40 p.m.

Arrive at babysitter’s.  Lydia is playing with the toy kitchen; she has a tiny frying pan and is putting it on and off the stove.  This is very exciting, but after a while she comes over to nurse.  By the time she’s done, she has forgotten the frying pan and is willing to be packed up to go home.

5:55 p.m.

P1010745Walk to bus stop as two buses pass us.  Wonder how long until the next one.  They aren’t necessarily on schedule at this time of day because of traffic snarls Downtown and in Oakland (the neighborhood where I work).  Wait.  Admire the sunset snowy scene.  It’s cold!  Think about just walking home; it’s only a mile, but Lydia and the bags are heavy, and my feet ache. . . .  A bus appears!

6:15 p.m.

Arrive home.  Daniel is cooking dinner: Baked Fish with Clementines, rice, and Brussels sprouts.  Nicholas is doing homework and immediately asks me, “Is one-fifth of thirty six?”  I start to explain how to calculate 1/5 of 36, then understand the question correctly.  He knows the answer; he just wants me to confirm; he wants this with every single problem!  Aargh.

Get myself and Lydia unbundled, and put her down with toys.  Go upstairs to take out contacts, wash face, and put on extra socks.

Dinner is ready. Arrange small morsels of fish and clementines, a cut-up Brussels sprout, and some rice in a sturdy dish for Lydia.  Place on dining table to cool.  Wet a washcloth and squirt hand soap on one corner.  Put Lydia in highchair, wash and rinse her hands with the cloth, push up her sleeves, and put on her bib; then put her dish on the highchair tray.  She immediately begins eating–she’s a good eater and likes almost everything we eat.

Serve my own food and fill my water glass.  Nicholas and Daniel serve themselves.  Everyone sits down and starts eating and talking about what we did today.  Nicholas admits he did not get around to looking in the Lost & Found–sigh!  Remind him that he really likes his swimsuit and tote bag, and we’ll all be sad if they’re lost, and I’m not sure if stores are selling swimsuits yet.

Jump up from my seat to make Lydia stop turning around backward in highchair and trying to sit in her food.  Repeat this every few minutes (wondering how the Amish get their babies to stay seated in nice wooden highchairs like this) and finally say, “I see you’re all done eating,” and start to take off her bib.  She wails.  “When you are eating, sit down and put your legs out the front,” I say as I guide her into position.  She eats some more.  Next time she gets up, she does not protest having her bib removed and hands and face wiped before I set her on the floor.

6:45 p.m.

Finish food from Lydia’s plate and highchair tray.  Put her dishes and mine–and Nick’s, which he’s brought into the kitchen but left on the counter–in dishwasher.  Get coffee from insulated carafe Daniel filled earlier in the day.  Make sure leftovers are put away (sometimes Daniel does this) and wipe off the counter and highchair.

Bring bags into kitchen.  Put ice packs in freezer.  Get baby-bottle drying rack.  Pour milk into 4 servings for tomorrow, put nipple assemblies on those bottles, and refrigerate.  Leave today’s used bottles and storage caps on counter next to Nick’s lunchbox.  Put caps on 2 clean storage bottles and place in my milk bag.  Put dirty dishes from my lunch bag in dishwasher.  Carry all bags into changing room.

7:10 p.m.

Nicholas reminds me that he needs clean sheets on his bed, to go with clean new pajamas.  I agree but have to change Lydia’s diaper first.  Then she wants nursing.

7:40 p.m.

Daniel plays with Lydia while Nicholas and I collect bedding: “I want all the layers like you, Mama.  Your bed is very cozy.”  I agree, but my bed is not in a loft 30 inches from the ceiling!  Spreading out 5 layers on his bed is an ordeal–but he’s helping and cheerful this time.

He puts on new Charlie Brown pajamas.  I’m relieved to see that they fit, with some room to grow!  He says he needs a snack before bed.

8:05 p.m.

Read Ghost Cat by Helen Rushmore to Nicholas while he’s eating cereal.  Lydia wants to sit in my lap, which is fine as long as I hold the book out of her reach.  Nurse again.

8:20 p.m.

Change Lydia into pajamas and nighttime diaper with extra absorbent layers.  Hand her over to Daniel, who has dimmed the lights and put soothing music on the stereo.  Lydia does not want Daddy!  She wants Mama!!  (This is a new thing in the past few weeks–she used to be happy with anyone familiar; now she’s clinging to me much more.)  But Nicholas gets another 10 minutes of Mama; I’m guarding that for him and insisting that Lydia tolerate Daddy some of the time.

Go upstairs and try to ignore Lydia’s shrieks of protest.  Nick brushes his teeth.  We climb up into his loft.  Shrieks are less now, and closing his door helps.  Read for a few more minutes.  Then climb down from loft and read today’s passage from Forward Day By Day.  Stand on tiptoe to hold Nick’s foot while we pray together: “Now I lay me down to sleep.  I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  See me safely through the night and wake me with the morning light.”  We say, “Good night! Sweet dreams! I love you!” to each other.

8:35 p.m.

Lydia is half-asleep in Daniel’s arms as he sways to the music.  I tiptoe past them to the changing room.  Take wetbag out of diaper bag and put used diapers from the day into diaper pail.  Babysitter uses disposable wet-wipes and puts them into the bag, too, so I have to fish these out and put them in the wastebasket.  If it’s a dirty diaper, she folds the flushable liner around the poop and then snaps the diaper around it; I take out the bundle of poop and flush it.  (Awkwardly cold though our changing room may be, it has a toilet that works all winter!)  When all this is done, I wash my hands, roll up the wetbag and put it back in the diaper bag, and restock the diaper bag with clean diapers.  Then I put away the rest of the clean diapers and wipes that I took out of the dryer last night.

8:50 p.m.

Daniel lays down Lydia on the bed.  She wakes up and fusses.  I nurse her to sleep while Daniel picks up toys.

Daniel and I talk for a few minutes; often, we hang out together for a while at this point, but tonight we each have separate things to do.  My first step is to collect some laundry from my closet and the changing room, put it in the washing machine, and then fold and put away the laundry that’s on the clotheslines.

9:20 p.m.

I’m very cold after being in the basement.  Make peppermint tea.  Open mail while tea is steeping.  Pay a bill. Sit down, with tea, at the computer in the living room.  Check email, then work on writing this post.

11:00 p.m.

Hang up the clean laundry.  Then wash bottles and lunchbox, to warm up.  Then get on Facebook for a little while. . . .

11:55 p.m.

Daniel comes in to say goodnight.  I tell him I’ll be going to bed very soon now . . . and I will . . . but maybe I’ll just have a little snack first?  Oh, Lydia is grumbling–time to nurse!

***

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About 'Becca
author of The Earthling's Handbook, about the environment, parenting, cooking, and more!

38 Responses to A Day as Mama and Data Manager

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  11. Survivor says:

    My goodness! I’d need a vacation from your life! It sounds exhausting. However, I can see why you make things like cloth diapering and breastfeeding, that many think are just too troublesome, part of your daily routine.

    • 'Becca says:

      Yes, I prioritize those things and have a very minimal “beauty routine”–it helps to have a job that doesn’t require me to be all dressed up. I think breastfeeding is actually relaxing, and although I get annoyed by pumping and keeping up with the bottles, I’m sure it’s less work than using more bottles to feed baby formula all the time we’re together as well as apart.

  12. Life Breath Present says:

    What details of your day you’ve given here. You write it out in such a way that it feels manageable just reading through, despite the many activities going on at once. But, that’s the life of a family, no?🙂

    Also, I once was in Pittsburgh. I obtained my graduate degree at Pitt and had some friends/roommates who went to CMU. It’s a nice enough city, Pittsburgh. I love the architecture and some of the history I know🙂

    • 'Becca says:

      I noticed you’re wearing a Pittsburgh T-shirt in the sidebar photo of your blog! I’ve lived here since I started college in 1991, and I love it.

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  14. codenamemama says:

    What a full day! Your study sounds absolutely fascinating. I’m impressed that you’ve been at it for 16 years. I’m always in awe of long-term studies like that – what a lot of work to follow so many people!

    • 'Becca says:

      The study has been going for 27 years, actually, so we now have employees who weren’t BORN yet when it started!! I’ve now been on the staff longer than anyone else except my other boss; the boss who is my direct supervisor replaced one of the original principal investigators when she retired.

      It IS a lot of work following all the people, and I’m in awe of it myself after talking with the person who was in charge of tracking down the guys for two recent phases–she marches right into scary neighborhoods and demands to know where so-and-so is living these days!

  15. Holly S says:

    Your job sounds absolutely fascinating, and it’s interesting to hear about how you juggle it along with your family and the necessary things at home. While it’s amazing that you’ve been able to provide such a detailed play-by-play of your day, it also sounds seriously exhausting… I also love the beautiful snowy pictures!

    • 'Becca says:

      Thanks! It is kind of exhausting, but I was doing really well until the time change. The past couple days have been rough, smoothed out by extra coffee which is only a short-term solution!

  16. Marija Smits says:

    Thanks for sharing your day here – and in so much detail. I’m sure that this process of writing down ‘what a normal day looks like’ has been beneficial to all involved in this month’s carnival. I think it’s amazing to read about how much us mamas achieve! Go you! Go us!

  17. I miss doing stats work! I know exactly what you mean when you say “this gives me a feeling of combined exasperation and “I am so useful, making things better!”” Cleaning data can be tedious but ultimately rewarding when you’re able to run more accurate stats. I would love to have your job!

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  19. Nathalie says:

    It’s nice reading about your work and all the effort that goes into maintaining such a large database! You pack a lot of things into that day! Thanks for sharing🙂

  20. I had no idea a study like that would take so much time, employees, resources, etc. — fascinating! I’m now even more grateful that such research exists.

    I’m well impressed that you resurrected a man, but I’d have been even happier for you to have discovered he was a zombie. Is there a coding for that?

    How nice that you have the same sitter for Lydia as you did with Nicholas!

    • 'Becca says:

      So far we have not needed a code for zombie. But one of my favorite things to do is code data that hadn’t yet been coded (everyone’s verbatim response was recorded) or that doesn’t fit an existing coding scheme. In the mental health questionnaire, for example, if a guy experienced delusions or hallucinations he explains what he perceived; it was a lot of fun deciding how to categorize those!

      It is great going to the same sitter again. We are getting to know each other all over again and reminiscing about when Nicholas was little. When he has a day off school, he can go over there too at no extra charge because she enjoys catching up with him (and he helps, playing with the babies). She is like extended family.

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  22. Amber says:

    Wow. I am tired just reading that! When you’re several years past the baby stage it’s easy to forget just how much work is involved.

    • 'Becca says:

      Yes, it’s a lot of work! I wouldn’t say I had forgotten, exactly, but I certainly was out of the habit of doing all these things when Lydia was born, about 7 years after Nicholas was done with diapers and nursing and bottles! I’m glad I had a rest in between them. I’m amazed by people who have two or even three babies/toddlers at once!

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  24. rakiwright says:

    Love that your hubby has dinner ready when you get home with the baby. Teamwork!

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