Archive | June, 2012

My Big Boy

26 Jun

It has been a big week for my little boy.  We returned from a visit to New Mexico, and left his sister at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for another week.  In other words, he has had his Dad and I all to himself.  The first trick he decided to master while sister was out of town was potty training himself.  Remember how I feared he wouldn’t be potty trained until he was 7?!  He just wasn’t interested, and then one day, he had it mastered.  It was literally like flipping a switch.

The only thing we’re struggling with in the potty training arena is getting him to stop pooping in the backyard, which he claims he did to be like our dog.

Now that he’s potty trained, we decided we would mark the occasion by getting him a big boy bed.  Why yes, my almost three year old was still in a crib until last night.  I found with my daughter that waiting until “almost three” meant for a smooth transition (read: no midnight visitors or fighting to keep them in bed).

We went shopping this weekend to get him a bed, and it was delivered yesterday.  Over the weekend, I cleared out all of the baby stuff and nursery decorations, and started replacing it with the new theme for his room — Cars, Trucks, Planes and Trains.  It is beautifully bright with primary colors of red, green and blue, and he just loves it.  It looks like this:

Last night, we lectured him that if he got out of bed to do anything but use the potty that he’d have to go back to the crib.  I checked on him a few times, to find him sleeping peacefully.  Then, this morning, I thought he was sleeping late, and went in to peak at him.  He was in his bed, lieing on his back, looking up at the ceiling.  When he saw me, he said, “Mom, the sun is up.”  I guess he interpreted the “don’t get out of bed rule” to apply in the morning.  I’m sure that won’t last long.

Anyway, I can’t believe the transformation this kid has had in the past week.  Just a little over seven days ago, he was a crib sleeping diaper wearing boy, and now, he is a big boy with a big boy room and big boy underwear to go with it.

It feels very final giving away all of our baby stuff.  The crib will be the last to go, once we determine he doesn’t need the visual reminder of the rules of the big boy bed.  Even though I’m a bit sad I won’t have another baby ever again, these kids are getting more and more fun every day.

 

Random Acts of Kindness

22 Jun

I stumbled upon the Random Acts of Kindness website earlier this week.  They have ideas on the site of things you can do to make a positive impact on the lives of other people — even if it is small.

One of my core values is that I want to make a positive impact on this world.  I keep this blog not only to have a home for my writing, but also to keep a record for my children to read one day.  So with that in mind, I am going to start writing about the little things I do occasionally to make someone else smile.  Hopefully it will inpire you as well.

I started off my crusade yesterday.  Ironically, I was already scheduled to donate blood.  As I was leaving the United Blood Service, the man who had been donating next to me stopped me and asked if I could give his car a jump start, as he had a dead battery.  Of course, part of me momentarily thought I hope he’s not just luring me towards his car, but I went with my gut, and promptly popped the hood and got out my jumper cables for him.

Bam.  Two good deads in the karma bank.  It feels good.  Definitely had me smiling the rest of the day.

Earlier this week, I took a tip from the Random Acts of Kindness website, and put change in the vending machine at work, puting a post-it note over the payment slot saying “snack is on me!”

I’m hoping it helped someone with a pick-me-up for their afternoon.

Please let me know what your ideas are for Random Acts of Kindness!

 

Bravo, Anne-Marie Slaughter

22 Jun

Driving home last night at 9:30 pm, I heard an NPR interview with Anne-Marie Slaughter.  She was talking about the challenge of being a working mother with a high powered career.

I came home and read the article on NPR’s website, which then linked to an essay that she wrote.  This essay is brilliant.  It outlines all of the struggles I have had since becoming a mother and trying to keep the wheels turning on the career and at home.  She also puts things in perspective — that women in my generation can have careers of up to 50 years.  Wow.  She says there will be periods of plateau, periods where you turn down work that will be too demanding or will require too much travel.  But there will be plenty of time after the kids are out of the house for upward trajectory and focusing on the career.

For all my working mother peeps, I highly recommend you read this essay: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-can-8217-t-have-it-all/9020/?single_page=true

Some of my favorite quotes are listed below.  Thank you, Anne Marie Slaughter, for putting the spotlight on these issues. (Alternating bold and regular font to make the separate quotes more apparent.)

“I still strongly believe that women can “have it all” (and that men can too). I believe that we can “have it all at the same time.” But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. “

“What we discovered in our research is that while the empowerment part of the equation has been loudly celebrated, there has been very little honest discussion among women of our age about the real barriers and flaws that still exist in the system despite the opportunities we inherited.”

“…the proposition that women can have high-powered careers as long as their husbands or partners are willing to share the parenting load equally (or disproportionately) assumes that most women will feel as comfortable as men do about being away from their children, as long as their partner is home with them. In my experience, that is simply not the case. “

“The culture of “time macho”—a relentless competition to work harder, stay later, pull more all-nighters, travel around the world and bill the extra hours that the international date line affords you—remains astonishingly prevalent among professionals today. Nothing captures the belief that more time equals more value better than the cult of billable hours afflicting large law firms across the country and providing exactly the wrong incentives for employees who hope to integrate work and family. Yet even in industries that don’t explicitly reward sheer quantity of hours spent on the job, the pressure to arrive early, stay late, and be available, always, for in-person meetings at 11 a.m. on Saturdays can be intense. Indeed, by some measures, the problem has gotten worse over time: a study by the Center for American Progress reports that nationwide, the share of all professionals—women and men—working more than 50 hours a week has increased since the late 1970s.

But more time in the office does not always mean more “value added”—and it does not always add up to a more successful organization.”

“While employers shouldn’t privilege parents over other workers, too often they end up doing the opposite, usually subtly, and usually in ways that make it harder for a primary caregiver to get ahead. Many people in positions of power seem to place a low value on child care in comparison with other outside activities. Consider the following proposition: An employer has two equally talented and productive employees. One trains for and runs marathons when he is not working. The other takes care of two children. What assumptions is the employer likely to make about the marathon runner? That he gets up in the dark every day and logs an hour or two running before even coming into the office, or drives himself to get out there even after a long day. That he is ferociously disciplined and willing to push himself through distraction, exhaustion, and days when nothing seems to go right in the service of a goal far in the distance. That he must manage his time exceptionally well to squeeze all of that in.

Be honest: Do you think the employer makes those same assumptions about the parent? Even though she likely rises in the dark hours before she needs to be at work, organizes her children’s day, makes breakfast, packs lunch, gets them off to school, figures out shopping and other errands even if she is lucky enough to have a housekeeper—and does much the same work at the end of the day.”

“Average life expectancy for people in their 20s has increased to 80; men and women in good health can easily work until they are 75. They can expect to have multiple jobs and even multiple careers throughout their working life. Couples marry later, have kids later, and can expect to live on two incomes. They may well retire earlier—the average retirement age has gone down from 67 to 63—but that is commonly “retirement” only in the sense of collecting retirement benefits. Many people go on to “encore” careers.

Assuming the priceless gifts of good health and good fortune, a professional woman can thus expect her working life to stretch some 50 years, from her early or mid-20s to her mid-70s. It is reasonable to assume that she will build her credentials and establish herself, at least in her first career, between 22 and 35; she will have children, if she wants them, sometime between 25 and 45; she’ll want maximum flexibility and control over her time in the 10 years that her children are 8 to 18; and she should plan to take positions of maximum authority and demands on her time after her children are out of the house.”

On a roll here

19 Jun

We have been spending a lot of time at the pool, and I got up on my soap box one more time to submit a Letter to the Editor of our local paper regarding floatation devices on children in pools.  Leave it to the Reno Gazette Journal to take my error-free writing and edit it to INCLUDE a typo.  Grrr…  It’s like playing Where’s Waldo — can you find the typo?!

Take That, UK Guy

7 Jun

What a rough morning.  I needed to have a meeting with three people in the US and one guy in the UK.  UK guy insists on a time that is super early for me.  All the US people declined.  Accepting that I’d now have to host two separate meetings for the two different time zones, I rearranged my schedule, woke up early, and still ended up rushing as I tried to get out the door…  Rushing as my boy is being clingy, and he insists I am the one that takes him to the sitter.  I try going out the door, but the sound of him wailing on the floor melts my heart.

I come back in, gather him up, and by now, the stress level for me is through the roof.  I drop him at the sitter’s (he’s still in tears and I am on the verge), and realize I only have 5 minutes until the meeting starts.  I ditch all plans to take the call from my office, and run back in the house, boot up the computer, just to find that my conference call software isn’t connecting to the network.

Lots of cursing, blood pressure skyrocketing, I finally get enough of a connection to instant message UK guy.  His response?  “Oh, I can’t make the meeting now.”

If only I could have reached through the computer to strangle him.  I typed out a very snippy response about how that would have been nice to know as I arranged my whole morning around him and left one kid in tears, but then I stopped, deleted it, and just shut down my computer.

Geesh.  Early meetings are the bain of my life as a working mother.  My family just doesn’t work well with an accellerated morning.  That man has no idea how much stress he put me through just to blow me off.

 

Portrait of a Kindergarten Graduate

6 Jun

Today is the last day of school for my daughter. As of this afternoon, she will have completed Kindergarten. Everyone says that time flies when you’re raising children, and that is so true. This feels like a landmark moment, so I thought I’d spend a few minutes writing about my daughter, the Kindergarten graduate, at age six.

Her world is one of beauty and magic. Her fertile imagination has her believing in fairies, mermaids, leprechauns and angels. She is a budding artist, and all of her drawings consist of rainbows, flowers and happy, smiling mermaids or fairies (or a combination of the two into a mermaid fairy) that are smiling and look just like her.

Her teacher sent home a binder with her school work and art work from throughout the year, and it was so fun to look at.  The first page said, “What is special about me is my Mom and My Dad”.  Every single person she drew is happy, and she doesn’t like her own artwork until it leaves the satisfactory level of beauty in her eyes.

Last week, she did a project at home she titled  “Map of My Heart”.  On it, she glued a picture of her parents, one of her as a toddler, and then she wrote all the things she loves, including, “dogs, dolls, bike, swim, girl scouts”.  She also wrote that she wants to dance and be a nurse when she grows up.

My daughter is the essence of the innocence of childhood right now.  I want to put her in a bubble to maintain this beautiful, happy impression of the world that she currently has.  One day something will happen to put a damper on her world of magic and smiles, but I will do my best to make sure that day isn’t for a long time.

For now, I will relish the moments where she thinks the light reflections on the wall are fairies watching down on her, and when we sing loudly and off key together as we drive around Reno.

Each night as I put her to bed, I tell her that she is my dream come true.  I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without her.