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Reno Moms Blog: Happy First Day of School, Moms!

12 Aug

A second grader and a preschooler, with the extra treat of Grandma being in town to see them off!

A second grader and a preschooler, with the extra treat of Grandma being in town to see them off!

It’s back-to-school day.  The day when all of us make sure the kids are scrubbed extra clean, their hair is perfectly neat, they have new backpacks, and we snap an adorable picture to commemorate the day.

When I was a kid, I didn’t realize how much my mom was doing to prepare for back to school. Now I get it.  Just this past week, I’ve been finding out my daughter’s teacher (and talking around my local mom network to determine that teacher’s reputation), shopping for the back to school supplies designated by that teacher, buying a new backpack, making a mental note to determine if the bus stop location has changed, and arranging for after school care and after school activities.

Click here to read the entire post at the Reno Moms Blog.

Reno Moms Blog: I Don’t Know How She Does It

8 Jul

Have you read the book or seen the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It? It’s a story about a high powered New York working mom and how she juggles the working motherhood gig. I really enjoyed the book up until the last chapter, where (spoiler alert) the main character quit her job and decided to be a stay at home mom.

In other words, I Don’t Know How She Does It should have been titled She Really Can’t Do It. The ending made me livid.

Maybe Hollywood doesn’t think us women can balance work and motherhood, but there are plenty of us working moms “doing it” daily. That is the subject of my latest post over at the Reno Moms Blog — how I manage to balance the two and keep relatively sane. Go check it out!

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Chaos. Utter Chaos.

17 May

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So we got a dog.  A puppy.  Because life wasn’t chaotic enough with my full time job and two young kids.  Whose idea was this?!

Mine, of course.   There haven’t been many years in my life where I haven’t had a dog.  Since meeting my husband, we went from having three large black dogs that we dubbed the Black Dog Club, and over the years, the club dwindled down to our dear Shadow, who passed in December.

It just felt a bit lonely, and the kids really wanted a dog.  I truly think it is good for kids to grow up with a dog.  So, the negotiating began between me and JB…  First was the negotiation of the breed of dog, on which we had very differing opinions, except when it came to his suggestion of a Rottweiler.  When I met JB, he had an awesome Rottweiler named Heidi, and I fell in love with that dog.  She died when my daughter was a baby.

Anyway, last week, we finally decided to get a 5 month old Rottweiler puppy.  Of course, then the negotiations on names began.  JB was adamant he wanted to name her Elsa, and I wanted to name her Bella, so we compromised after about 48 hours of stand-offs and named her Ella Bella.

The first week, she was super well behaved and we were concerned at how calm she was.  Ha!  She has now made herself at home, and the chaos has ensued.  Potty training a dog with kids in the house is just awesome…  Like when my son locks her in his room or mine and then she messes in there.  This morning, even though she had peed and pooped outside, as I was getting ready, the dog peed and pooped upstairs with the kids.

She loves to eat my daughter’s toys.  She loves to chew on long, flowing dresses as you walk by, which is the dress of choice for my daughter, so this has caused many tears.

Last night, I had a neighbor come visit.  A neighbor who never had kids, but loves them.  I was a bit embarrassed at her seeing the reality of my life right now…  That I fed the kids while unloading groceries, and made dinner for myself,  but every time I tried to sit down to eat it, someone needed something from me, or the dog got into something, etc.  I swear I sat down to eat my dinner about five times and was interrupted before I could actually sit and consume it.  I tried to have a conversation with this dear neighbor as my daughter attempted to do homework (needing tons of help) and my son was, well being a 3 year old boy with tantrums and demands slung into the midst of our conversation.  Add to that the dog jumping on the furniture and running around with toys, and I swear I couldn’t finish a single thought without being interrupted and having to go intervene in some…  SITUATION.

I am literally exhausted.  A few weeks ago, I started to wonder is something wrong with me? Why am I exhausted all the time?  But then the voice of reason kicks in, and I remind myself how much is on my plate.  It is everything I ever wanted, and I know I will look back and miss these years when they pass, but having two young kids and a full time job and volunteering at school and in the community and trying to keep in shape and cook healthy meals…  It is a lot.  I think back to my days in college where my only responsibility was myself, and laugh at how I thought I was busy then.  Almost every day this week, I have fallen asleep while tucking a kid into their bed, and I then stumble down to my own bed, just to start it all over the next morning.

I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.  I love having my plate full.  I just wish I could clone myself!  Here is a picture of my full plate…  How did I ever get so lucky?!

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Not A Morning Boy

23 Oct

My husband isn’t a morning person.  It appears my son isn’t, either.

This morning, I needed to get him to preschool and myself to work early to have a call with a woman in Paris.  (Side note — after I told her I studied French for six years, she asked if I wanted to conduct the call in French.  Um, no, I had to explain I learned French while living in New Mexico, and hence I’m not very good at speaking it!)

I woke up early, got breakfast made for the kids and lunches packed, and then opened the shades in Little Man’s room to start to wake him up.  He groaned, and I went to take my shower.  When I emerged from getting ready, I could hear him screaming.  Not sure about what.  But basically, he was pitching a fit.

I had hoped that my daughter and husband would make sure he at least got up and ate his breakfast, but no, he wasn’t in the mood for it.  Today was “wear black” day at school, so I had his outfit picked out.  He hated my outfit choice (a black Giants jersey in honor of the Giant’s win last night as well).  He ran around in his underwear, and at this point, I know I need to leave NOW or be late and frazzled for my call.

I picked him up like a football, gathered his breakfast into a Tupperware, and grabbed his clothes and shoes in my other hand.  I tried getting him to the car, and he pulled that move where they go completely limp so that he could slide out of my arms.

Luckily, at this point, my hubby offered to take him, as we were all seeing this was spiraling downhill quick.

If he is this hard to wake up at 3, what will he be like at 13?!

Self Criticism

22 Oct

So I recently won an award that required me to do a video interview.  I haven’t been in front of the camera much, but am comfortable public speaking, so I wasn’t nervous about this.  I received the questions in advance, and watched the previous year’s video, and I think that is where I went wrong.

I thought too much about my answers.  In fact, there were 20 of us doing video interviews, and I ended up being the 19th person interviewed.  It was 8pm, I was exhausted and had blood shot eyes after a long day at work, and I think I ended up answering my questions with answers that I thought would be more interesting or funny than my genuine thoughts.  I think I also experienced that phenomenon where your brain blanks out, and I have literally been kicking myself for my silly answers ever since.  Anyway, I literally couldn’t sleep that night, because I was kicking myself over my silly answers.

1.    Tell us briefly what you do. What does a typical day look like?

My video answer:  I hop on my treadmill desk and talk to people all across the world about online advertising.

My real answer:  (face smack)  God, why did I say that part about the treadmill desk?  I am such a dork.  OK, the rest is true, but there are also the hundreds of daily emails and a LOT of meetings. Also, my real day starts with the chaos of getting two kids up, fed, lunches packed, and trying to get myself into work on time.  Once I leave work, I shift gears, get the kids, cook dinner, help with homework, read to kids, get kids ready for bed and often fall asleep in one of their beds while I’m tucking them in because I’m so tired.  But us working moms are afraid to admit that at times.  So I just talked about the talking to people all across the world, which is cool, but such a small fraction of the real picture.

 

2.    What are your passions outside of work? (volunteer work, personal passions)

My video answer: My kids are my number one passion.  Outside of my kids, I do volunteer work to support Washoe County School District.

My real answer: (another face smack): Really?!  People are going to think I’m boring because of course my kids are my passion.  I didn’t mention skiing, open water swimming, blogging, reading, baking REAL fresh food for my family…  It’s also my passion to teach my kids skiing and swimming.

3.    What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My video answer: To have a vision.  In my early 30s, I discovered I had realized my vision, so now I’m working on the vision for the next phase of my life.

My real answer:  Well, yeah.  But I didn’t mention that that secondary vision has been perplexing for me.  I want to get my work back to my creative passions, but creative passions don’t pay as well or provide great healthcare.  I also came across about 50 articles this weekend about people getting “the best advice”, feeling like fate was just taunting my answer.

4.    At first glance most people don’t know about you …

My video answer: That I’m a budding author, and I’m writing a children’s book series.

My real answer:  OK, so this is true, but it feels a bit like stepping onto a stage naked.  I hadn’t even mentioned that on my blog.  So, hey, blog readers, I’m writing children’s books!  That’s one reason I’ve been a slacker blogger recently.  More on that later, but last week I hired an editor, and I have two books ready for editing with drafts of the cover art.  Working on that “vision” I mentioned in the previous answer.  Why am I shy about this?  Not sure, but can’t take it back now!

5.    If you could travel anywhere in time, where would you go and why? My video answer:  Dinosaurs.  I would want to go see dinosaurs and the world before humans got a hold of it.

My real answer:  Dinosaurs?!  Yeah, that’d be cool, and maybe that will make for a funny sound bite, but really, my authentic answer would have been that I’d like to go back and see the world (or the United States) when my grandparents were young.  I’m so intrigued by the 1920s-1940s, and have read tons of historical fiction from that era and watched all kids of movies and TV shows.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t get much adult time with my grandparents to talk to them about their lives.  I’ve also been really into researching my family tree, and am just so curious about my roots.  But that answer didn’t feel cool.  So I went with dinosaurs.  Which really, is probably the antithesis of cool.

*sigh*

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.”

Bad Mom

12 Jan

Oh, what a morning it was.

Everything started normal.  I woke up to the sound of the kids chattering happily in the living room.  I go out to see them, exchange hugs, get Little Man dressed and oversee Little Miss getting dressed.  I then ask them what they want for breakfast, and pour out the cereal and milk that they selected.

That’s when things started to go downhill.

“I want MORE milk,”  Little Man whined.  He does this practically every morning, wanting more of something he hasn’t yet started to eat, and I know darn well he will likely not eat more than I originally give him.

“Eat what I gave you, and then I’ll give you more,” I responded.

That launched him into a tantrum.

Right about that time, Little Miss was asking me questions and I was mindlessly trying to answer them while starting to get lunches ready.

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” she yelled at me.

I honestly didn’t know.  I was on auto-pilot, not yet completely awake, and my whole mind was fogged by the tantrum raging a few feet away from me.

I told her I couldn’t remember what I said, and she kept demanding me to tell her what THAT WORD meant.

“What word?”  I ask.

“That one that I didn’t know.”

“I don’t know which word you’re referencing,” I respond.

That launched her into a fit.

About this point, I picked up Little Man, took him to the rocker, and tried to console him.  That’s when he flailed and knocked his head on my lip really hard, and well, that is when this tired Mom lost her patience.

I put him down, went to my room, and shut the door, intending to get ready for work in peace.

Of course, they followed me.  Two crying, wailing kids following me and grating on my last nerve.

“YOU DEAL WITH THEM,” I told my husband angrily, who was still mocking sleep in bed.  He chose to ignore the whole situation, and it just continued to spiral from there.

I feel horrible, but I’m human.  There is only so much I can handle in the wee hours of the morning while I’m trying to get kids up and ready, and under the pressure of preparing for my own workday.

It has pretty much tainted my entire day.  Days like these, I want to just go back to bed and curl up under the covers, hiding from the world.  But, here I am at work, putting on a brave face, and hoping that things go smoothly when we all return home this evening.

Please tell me I’m not the only one with Bad Mom experiences such as this.

Walking While You Work

8 Sep

I am walking as I type this.

No, really, I am. At 2 miles per hour.

I recently became the owner of a TreadDesk, which is a treadmill specifically designed to be used in an office. My employer raised my desk, and I now stand or walk the entire day, taking only short sitting breaks.

To say this has been life changing is an understatement. I truly felt that sitting all day in front of a computer was slowly killing me. My derriere literally hurt at the end of the day. As I recovered from my knee surgery, sitting also made my knee get extremely stiff, causing me to limp around for 5-10 minutes every time I got up.

In July, I was at our company headquarters in Redmond, WA, where I saw a coworker with a treadmill desk. I knew immediately that I must have one.

Our bodies were made for movement. I can already feel an amazing difference. I don’t get stiff. I don’t get energy drops, and it seems to have made my afternoon sugar cravings less severe.

But mostly, I found that work seems more exciting now, and that I can concentrate more and actually get more done. I am a natural fidgeter and multi-tasker. This treadmill desk allows for an outlet for such energy, allowing me to more fully concentrate on the task at hand.

I walked 25 miles last week in my office. For a working mother of two, this is an amazing shift for me. If I have a lunch meeting or my schedule doesn’t allow me to hit the gym during the day, I don’t feel guilty. Although I’m not really elevating my heartrate much, I’m moving — up to 6 miles a day.

It has also done wonders for my knee. I am no longer stiff, and my knee feels so much stronger, as the muscles surrounding it are engaged for the entire day.

I believe that I am at the beginning of a culture shift within corporate America. You should see the reaction of my co-workers. Everyone comes by to talk to me about my treadmill, and I have numerous people planning to join the trend.

A Day of Goodbyes

18 Aug

Today, both of my children will say goodbye to their current care takers. I found out a few weeks ago that my son’s provider, whom I have referred to here on this site before as Mary Poppins, is moving to Southern California. Little Miss is completing her last day at preschool, and will be starting a public kindergarten in a few weeks.

It’s bitter sweet. Especially in the case of Mary Poppins… Her entire family has come to feel like an extension of our family. She has truly been Little Man’s second mother, watching him ever since he was 5 months old.

It is a funny story how I met her. I was at the pool with Little Miss 3 years ago when a woman there casually asked me where I took my daughter for childcare. When I told her the institutional daycare she was at, the woman immediately got up, got her cell phone, and said, “you have to meet Lori.”

I thought this was strange. I wasn’t really looking for a change. I wasn’t really dissatisfied… But when Lori called me back telling me she had an opening, and I showed up at her house, my whole perspective changed. I walked in, and got this overwhelming sense of this is what I’ve been looking for. The house was immaculently clean, she had a nice backyard with all kinds of fun things for kids, and most of all, she has such a loving and bubbly personality that she was truly irresistable. Plus, her husband was a cop!

Little Miss went to Lori for 1.5 years before transitioning to preschool, and Little Man has also been there about 1.5 years. Every morning at drop off, the house smells divinely of freshly made waffles. I often wanted to come in and park myself at the table with the kids for breakfast.

While I’m happy for Lori and the adventure her family is embarking on, it is sad for me on multiple levels. The value of a caretaker that you trust completely and know is giving amazing care to your children is immeasurable. Plus, when you see someone like Lori every day, 1-2 times per day for 3 years, you can’t help but become friends with her. So I’m also losing a close friend.

As for my daughter, she has been at her preschool for just over a year. I was on the waiting list for this school for almost 3 years, as it is one of the best preschools in town. It is an amazing school. Every teacher and the director are personally involved and very loving. Little Miss has learned so much, and truly thrived in their care. It’s hard to take her from such an environment, but our public elementary school is supposed to be the top in the state, and I know she is ready to move to the next level.

The upside of these transitions? My kids were across town from eachother, making dropping off or picking them both up an affair that required 45 minutes of driving. I have been driving WAY too much the past few years. But I gladly took on that burden to have my children in the best care I could find.

Little Man is moving to an in-home daycare that happens to be next door. NEXT DOOR, people. The woman has been doing an in-home daycare for over 15 years. I don’t know if she’ll be able to fill the shoes of Lori, but I’m confident it will be a good environment for Little Man, with several other 2 year olds to keep him company.

Little Miss will be taking the bus. The bus stop is at my house! I have arranged for another neighbor to do after-care for her, so starting in a few weeks, I will just drive home and walk from neighbor to neighbor to get my kids. HOW COOL IS THAT?! I’ll be getting back over an hour a day — woot!

Anyway, I know today will be hard, and I’m sure I’ll get a bit misty eyed. But I’m sure my kids are going to good environments, and they seem to adjust to changes well. On to the next adventure…

Little Man with Lori:

Little Miss with her preschool teachers:

Comedy of Errors

19 May

My life lately has felt a bit like a practical joke being played on me by someone upstairs if you know what I mean.

For example, last night after dinner, JB suggests “let’s all go for a family walk!”

Momentarily underestimating the extent of my gimpiness, I enthusiastically agreed, excited for the kids to bike (Little Man on his brand new push tryke).

Of course the weather here is screwed up, feeling much like the dead of winter if you don’t take into account that it stays light later and the plants are getting green. So, we all bundled up in our jackets, got the kiddos on their bikes, I got our geriatric lab, Shadow on the leash and we were ready.

We hadn’t gone 200 yards when it became apparant that this gimpy Momma was going to seriously impede the progress of this outing.

“How far can you go?” JB asked. I had no idea. I had thoughts of maybe today is the day I finally walk around the block again! He picked a street to go up with a large hill.

I didn’t think Little Miss was capable of biking up that hill, but she was doing great. Until the asthma kicked in, that is. I ended up pushing her while she hacked up a lung, and limping way far behind JB and Little Man. At the top of the hill, we decided to take a shortcut home, which on a bum leg, even a shortcut feels like a long haul.

Little Miss coasted downhill on her bike while I discovered that walking downhill on my bad knee is much harder than walking uphill. I limped along slowly. Little Miss waited for me, and her hands were freezing. Because I just didn’t think to put gloves on her in MAY.

Minutes later, it started to pour rain. Oh, lovely. I felt like looking for hidden cameras. There I was, limping along, with a girl who is asthmatic and coughing in the cold, and as much as I wanted to rush home, there is no rushing when you’re gimpy.

This morning, the comedy of errors continued, when we were gathering her dance shoes and tights for her VERY FIRST DANCE RECITAL EVER tonight. She got ballet shoes for her birthday in February, and I’ve been tripping over these things, and constantly picking them up as she left them strewn all over the house for the past three months. Now, this morning, when I’m running late for work, the darn shoes were NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.

I finally dug them out, and in between giving her all of her different nebulizers, antibiotics, allergy medicine, breakfast, etc., I was super late to work… But I couldn’t leave until I did her hair in a “high, tight bun”.

Oh, Lordy. It is a chaotic life I lead. I wouldn’t trade those kids for anything in the world… But some days I sure wish I didn’t have to contribute to bringing home the bacon.

Sleeping Beauty

5 May

It’s a working mother’s predicament of being between a rock and a hard place. I thought Little Miss was well enough to return to school, but I wasn’t sure. I sent her there yesterday, and worried about her all morning.

I called at lunch to ask her teachers how she was doing, and I was told she was “GREAT”. The load off my back lifted, and I carried on working the rest of the day. When I showed up to pick her up, she looked exhausted. The second we got into the car, she started crying, saying, “I don’t feel well.”

She cried for the next hour. When I got her home, I gave her some medicine, got some food in her, and then wrapped her in a blanket and cuddled with her on the couch. She was out about 10 minutes later, at 6pm.

I tried to wake her for dinner. She was OUT. She slept all through us making dinner, through us eating dinner, and then cleaning up the mess. I put her brother down, and then tried to rouse her again, thinking she should eat and get a nebulizer treatment, but there was no waking this princess.

Finally, at 9pm, JB cradled her in his arms and carried her up the stairs to bed. I kept expecting her to wake up and ask for food, but she didn’t wake up until 12 hours later.

So, my assessment is that a whole day at school is a bit much for her right now. She is thrilled that I said today she could “be a morning kid”, and I’d take her home for a nap in the afternoon. Her coughing has subsided, but my motherly intuition is telling me her body is going to need some extra rest for a few days.

Being Put to the Test

3 May

Sometimes, I feel like there is just too much on my plate. Yesterday and this morning were some of those times.

Over the weekend, Little Miss was having coughing fits. Coughing fits that last an hour, give her a headache and leave her in tears. Coughing fits that strike at 3am and have us both up for over an hour. Coughing fits that her asthma medications just weren’t helping.

So, I made the call yesterday to keep her home and get her to the pulmonologist. Even under the pressure of missing work, as I just missed a lot of work for my own issues. Turns out getting her to the doctor was the right call. They did a lung function test on her. A normal score is 100. My daughter got a 39, with what the doctor termed as “significantly decreased lung function”.

Cue the in-office nebulizer treatment and steroid dose. Luckily, it made some improvement. It also hopped my daughter up so that she was bouncing off the walls. When we went to check out, she took off running down the hall and around the corner out of sight. Being very gimpy myself still, I just looked helplessly after the direction she went, and thankfully saw her round the corner again and sprint back towards me. This is very out of character for my normally well behaved daughter when we’re out in public.

We left the doctor’s office with prescriptions for oral steroids, inhaled steroids, nebulizer treatments, allergy medication, two nasal sprays, and a course of 10 days of antibiotics that the doc said we’ll most likely be refilling for another 10 days.

Thank God for my good insurance. I can’t imagine how much that would have cost out of pocket.

I brought her home, where she took a three hour nap. After dinner, she got another dose of oral steroids, which hyped her up yet again, and at 11pm, she was sitting upright in bed wide-eyed.

Poor girl.

In the midst of all of this, and limping all around town on my bad knee, I have a really big presentation at work today. I opened my computer up to finalize the presentation file, and….

NOTHING.

The thing was dead. Completely dead. As in no signs of life.

Of course I hadn’t managed to put the latest version of said critical file anywhere but on my computer (initiate forehead smack now). This was about when I thought I might break.

Luckily, JB came home right about then, and took care of filling prescriptions and grocery shopping, and I was forced to just hang out with Little Man (as my daughter was still sleeping) and disconnect from work/stress. Later that evening, I got to try out a Netti Pot on her, telling her we were going to do a magic trick of pouring water in one nostril and having it come out another.

She did not like that trick. I thought it was pretty funny.

I woke up super early today to get to our Help Desk when they opened. The official diagnosis of my computer? “It took a poop.”

Which later was tagged in the work ticket as “Dead computer”. I guess I need a new motherboard. Cue the Star Wars theme song (just makes me think of mother ships).

But there is good news! My super critical file was retrievable! After two hours of waiting and waiting and stewing and stressing in the office of our Help Desk, I at least walked away with a loaner computer that has my critical files on it.

I am in a much better state than I was first thing this morning, when I felt like my head might elevate off of my body, start spinning, and then explode.

I just called home, where JB is hanging out with my daughter, and she was playing outside in her nightgown without coughing at all. I think she’s on the mend.

We’re both on the mend. Thank God for that.

Someday She Will Learn

11 Mar

I’ve been tired this week. My days have been starting at 6am, where I hop on the bike and do some PT, then get the kids fed, lunches packed, and then get Little Miss to school and me to work. My lunch breaks are spent at PT, and after work, I get both kids, make dinner, put them to bed, and then do more PT. I finish this routine at 10:30 many nights.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping as well, and my daughter has been picking the early mornings as a time to test her limits with me.

Oh, sister, that is not a wise idea.

I am not a morning person. I generally wake up in a good mood, though. But take this morning, for instance, when I made Little Miss what she requested for breakfast, and after I get it on the table, she changes her mind and collapses in the kitchen when I refuse to make her another breakfast, I get a bit testy.

I set the kitchen timer for a minute, and said if she wasn’t eating her breakfast by the time that timer went off, I was taking away her brand new doll.

“I don’t care, Rapunzel is my favorite anyway,” she says haughtily.

In my early morning fog of sleep deprivation and looking at 14 hours of constant activity, my approach was no-nonsense.

“OK, I’ll take away all of your dolls for 2 days.”

“Two days isn’t that long,” she responds. Some day she will learn not to mess with me. I then marched upstairs, put all of her dolls in a garbage bag, and told her they’d be gone for a week.

Of course, all hell broke loose. All before 7am. By the time I arrive to work, I’m harried, on my third cup of coffee, and thinking my childless and single co-workers have NO IDEA of the hurculean efforts it took for me to get to work by 8:30. NO IDEA.

Drinking the Company Kool-Aid

29 Sep

On this National Day of Coffee, I sit here hoping that I will eventually feel fully awake today.  Yesterday was LONG.  I flew to Seattle for the day, getting to the airport just after 6am, and getting home around 9:30pm.  But it was a great day.  I got to go to the annual company meeting with 20,000 of my co-workers. 

Sitting in an arena with that many employes is an incredible experience.  It really drives home what a big company we’re all working for.  We sat through hours of demos, which may sound boring, but the technology they were showing is amazing!  At one point, I turned to the woman next to me and said, “The technology of the Jetsons is upon us!” 

I sat there contemplating how fast technology is advancing, and what it will look like for my children as they grow up.  At one point, I also mused about what my grandparents would think about all this technology, as they never really got to experience personal computers or the internet. 

Stay tuned for wonderful things from my company.  I love working for a company with so many exciting products, that also makes it a priority to provide those tools and funding to impoverished people all across the world.

I’ve had some exciting irons in the fire at work lately, which has been helping me with my emotional struggles of being away from the kids.  Thankfully, I work for a company ranked as one of the best places to be a working mother!

Banging My Head on A Self Imposed Glass Ceiling

19 Mar

Well, I seem to suck at blogging in 2010. I admit I think Facebook has a lot to do with that. I use my witty one liners there, and then when I try to think of something fresh to say on my blog (which is read by many of the same people as I’ve befriended on Facebook), I draw one big blank.

One thing on my mind as of late is the Glass Ceiling. Now I don’t necessarily believe there is still the stereotypcial Glass Ceiling per its original definition, but I’m finding myself and many of my female coworkers imposing our own Glass Ceiling on ourselves. To explain, I find myself hesitant to put my hat in the ring for new opportunities, as I’m afraid what it will do to my work-life balance. This week, I applied for a new position within my company, and made it to the first round of interviews.

But all that caused me was a lot of heartburn. I went and talked to the woman who is currently in that role, and she said, “this job requires a lot of hours.”

I just don’t have a lot of hours to give. I leave work promptly at five, do 45 minutes of picking up kids, get dinner on the table, play with the kids, start bedtime routine, and then collapse in a vegatative state once they’re asleep. It’s just such a quandry. Am I being seen at work as stagnant, doing the same job for over 3 years? The competitive nature in me hates seeing people all around me taking new jobs and getting promoted, but the Mom in me keeps me focused on the prize… When I picture what I want my life to be like, it is working less hours, and spending more time with my children.

With that vision in mind, I met with the hiring manager, and explained to him that I’d be really good at the new job. It aligns with my skills and experience perfectly. I told him I wanted to be up front with him, though, that I didn’t have “a lot of hours” to give. Really, all I could offer was 8 to 5, but I could offer that I’d be really efficient and passionate and give it my all during those hours.

That wasn’t going to work for him. Evidently the role requires a lot of “off hours” global meetings. Let me just tell you how those go down in my house… 7am meetings where the hubby is still in bed, and both kids wake up just as I get on the phone, and they’re demanding attention. Or the 7pm call, where my hubby is still at work, and I’m at home alone with two kids who are starving, and I’m trying to talk on the phone.

It just doesn’t work. My husband’s schedule isn’t that flexible, and I guess I could pay someone to come watch the kids during those off hours calls, but that is MY time with MY kids, darnit. I have limited time with them as it is, and I only have childcare available from 8 to 5, so those are my hours — 8 to 5.

It’s frustrating that such a restraint, which wasn’t really a restraint on men in the workforce 30 years ago before women’s lib and globalization, is holding me back. There is definitately a part of me that says if I have to work, I want to be able to be good — be competitive — at what I’m doing. If I’m working 40 hours a week away from my kids, than it should be in a job that is challenging and rewarding, right?

So why is it that I just feel like I’m being held back right now? I watch other working moms that are shooting up the career ladder. I have to wonder how they’re doing it. It is at the expense of their family? Or do they just have a spouse with a flexible schedule who is able to take up their slack?

So once again, I do my work, and watch the opportunity pass. Am I just shooting myself in the foot? Or am I preserving my sanity and the health of my home life? I look at my children, and when I’m home with them, I really don’t regret my choices. But I’m learning that in this life as a working mom of two… I feel conflicted so much and wonder if this is only temporary, or will this resolve itself when the kids are older?

I Admit I Have a Problem

4 Mar

My name is Lynnette, and I am an addict. I am addicted to finding THE perfect childcare for my children. It’s a sickness, really. I think it stems from my innate Mommy guilt of not being able to stay home with the kids. It makes me a tad — OK, really obsessed with finding the best childcare for my kids.

Little Miss has been in a great preschool since September, but it is Waldorf style, which means they don’t believe in teaching actual cirriculum until first grade. It has been a perfect fit for her this year, as she has loved the songs, stories and art, but I’m starting to think the child needs some actual cirriculum before hitting kindergarden.

Before becoming a parent, I had no idea how loaded the Preschool decision could be. There are so many different options — religious, Montessori, traditional, Waldorf… And as much as I want to find the right preschool for my child, I also wonder if it really matters. What do any of us truly remember from our preschool days?!

I have similar issues with Little Man. We currently have him in a great in-home daycare, but honestly, having the kids at two different places is a pain in the rear. It takes me 45 minutes after work just to pick up both kiddos. It’s a ton of driving, and I’m paying more than if I just put them in a daycare/preschool that would take them both.

But I just don’t like the institutional feel of many of the daycares around here. I don’t want my kids in classrooms with a ton of other children, in rooms that smell of urine and disinfectant. The places they’re at now are places that I wouldn’t mind spending my days… Homey and cozy and loving.

Registration for preschool is next week, bringing this all to a head. I think I’m going to switch preschools for Little Miss, which has had me shopping preschools this week, even though I’m pretty sure I know which one we’ll be taking her to. I truly cringe at breaking up with our existing preschool. I thought I was done with breakups once I got married, but no, there have been numerous childcare breakups… The last time I did this, I broke down in tears.

Because as hard as you try, it’s hard not to become attached. It will be hard to transition Little Miss away from her friends and teachers that she loves, but our smart and sassy girl is a bit too sassy to let me work on the cirriculum with her much, so I think instead of beating our heads against each other, I’ll just switch preschools and have her exposed to cirriculum by certified teachers.

One of the preschools I saw today touted teaching Spanish and French, which on the surface was really cool to me. But then again, I realize that once she hits public school, that won’t be continued, so is it worth paying to send her to the most expensive preschool in town? I’m thinking not.

So anyway, I forge on. I play the preschool and daycare lists like a game of poker. I look forward to the days when the school decision is just made for me by the zoning for our public school. Then I can put all of my mother guilt towards not being able to volunteer or head the PTA, right?!

Guess I Need To Update My Will

12 Feb

This week has been a blur. I had my first business trip since the birth of Little Man. I headed to Seattle Sunday afternoon, right as the Super Bowl was starting. This meant that as I was trying to give last minute instructions to JB, he was glued to the TV, and I had to just give up, and plan to update him after the game was over.

It’s a mixed bag being away on business. It is refreshing to get into a new city, and traveling solo is SO easy that it feels like I’m cheating. I just fly through security! I got to travel with one of my closest friends, so it was fun to sit next to her on the plane and catch up for a few hours. I like meeting my co-workers, many of which are from the far corners of the earth. I was meeting with my counterparts from Singapore, Ireland, Ft. Lauderdale and Seattle. It’s nice to have adult only dinners, where I’m not concerned with the mess my daughter is making, and making sure my son isn’t pulling the table cloth or my food off the table.

But overall, it’s hard to be away. It was even harder this week, as I was gone for Little Miss’ birthday. I usually take her birthday as a vacation day and spend the entire day with her, and this year, I was stuck in meetings just thinking about her constantly. I left my trip two days early, and made it home at 9pm on her birthday. I had to take a crazy long flight routing me through San Francisco with a two hour layover, but I just wanted to be with her, even if for only a few minutes on her birthday. I burst through the door at 9pm, picked her up, swung her around, and then got her ready for bed and cuddled with her. She probably wouldn’t have known the difference, but that meant so much to me.

Her party is tomorrow. Though I am a firm believer of simple childhood parties, with her birthday being smack in the middle of winter, we can’t do park or backyard parties… Plus, it seems the trend recently is that you get often both parents and the siblings of everyone invited. So, we’ve outsourced it. We’ll be going to a bounce house place, and she has requested a Wizard of Oz themed party. She’ll be wearing her red sparkle shoes, and we have a lovely Wizard of Oz themed cake planned.

This morning, we had a standoff on what she wants to wear to her party. She wants to wear a new dress-up dress she got from Grandma, which is complete with sequins and tulle. I told her it would get ruined with all the jumping and slides, so we settled on a compromise… Her magesty will have a wardrobe change once she is done with jumping and before the cake portion of the party. Hopefully she will forget this request, but it just cracks me up. She even said, “but Mom, I want everyone to think I’m pretty at my party.”

I had no idea those thoughts started at 4.

Oh, and another good Little Miss quote… After travling for 4 hours to be with her at bedtime on her birthday, she says to me, “when you die, I get all of your jewelry, right?”

Goodness, is she trying to off me already?!

Well, I’d better run. I’ll post pictures of the fun later!

Can I Have a Clone?

1 Feb

I need two of me this week. Not only is Little Man’s daycare closed Weds through Friday, but he has been sick, and increasingly sicker over the past few days. Dad is home with him now, and I’m at work wishing I was holding my poor baby. These are some of the hardest days of being a working Mom. I’m here physically, but my heart wants to be with my coughing, pink eyed screaming baby. I’m sure he misses me too…

This work thing sure gets in the way sometimes.

😦

Life as A Working Mom of Two

12 Jan

Here is a typical day:

6:30am — Wake to happy baby smiling and flailing all limbs
6:32am — Little Miss is up and in a good mood, too
6:35am — Change baby’s clothes and diaper
6:40am — Supervise Little Miss getting dressed
6:50am — Get breakfast out for Little Miss
6:51am — Feed baby
7:15am — Put baby in gym outside shower and get cleaned up
7:30am — Baby fussing, kick hubby out of bed so that I can finish getting out the door, turn over responsibility of Little Man
7:45am — Wrangle Little Miss out the door, feed dog a bone, load up car with preschool essentials, gym bag, lunches and laptop bag. Little Miss drops a fairy doll under the car, so get on my hands and knees in my work clothes to rescue fairy
8:00am — Get to preschool, get Little Miss in her snow suit, mittens, boots, hat and scarf, then escort to playground. Find fairy stashed in her pocket and confiscate
8:15am — Show up at work, thinking ONE day I will actually get there on time again, and finally get my breakfast
8:15am — 5pm work work work, blah blah blah (quick break for a workout at lunch)
5pm — Rush to preschool to get Little Miss, who is the last one to be picked up, drive to get Little Man
5:30pm — Show up at the stroke of 5:30 (daycare deadline) to get Little Man, chat with daycare provider
5:50pm — Arrive home
6:00pm — Start dinner
6:30-7pm — Dinner (hubby walks in at 6:30 if I’m lucky)
7pm – 8pm — Spend as much quality time as possible with the kids and hubby
8pm — Start Little Miss’ bedtime ritual
8:30pm — Little Miss down, focus on Little Man
9:00pm — Bath for Little Man
9:30pm — Last bottle for Little Man
10pm — Little man down
10:15pm — make lunches for myself and Little Miss for the next day
10:30pm — Get ready for bed
10:45pm — In bed, try to study for my certification exam
10:50pm — Get bored, pull out chick lit
11:00pm — Can’t hold eyes open, go to sleep
Rinse and repeat — over, and over and over again

I’m tired. I think I’m always tired now. After a month of being a working mom of two kids, I can conclude that the balance I felt I had as a working mom of one kid is out the window. I don’t feel like I’m giving anyone enough time right now — Little Miss, Little Man, work, hubby, me… Everyone is having to compromise. I don’t like it, but this is my reality for the foreseeable future.

I’m reading a book about working moms, called Don’t Know How She Does It, and the book has had some brilliant quotes. My favorite went something like this: “Did our predecessors in the 1970s mean to fight for equal opportunity, including the opportunity to spend the least amount of time possible with our kids?”

That, in a nutshell is what I’m feeling. I’m also feeling a self-imposed glass ceiling. I’ve already cut short a business trip and passed up one job opportunity because I’m afraid how it will effect my newly minted, very fragile feeling personal life as a working mom of two. I’m trying to be kind to myself, not taking on too much after only being back one month, but also feel how self limiting that can be.

And you feel the double standard. Like the book says, if a man takes time off work to be with their children, they get kudos for being an involved parent. If a woman does the same, she is weak and undedicated. Men usually don’t impose limits on themselves, figuring it will all work out in the end.

So, I am head down, trying to make this work, and also wondering how I got myself on this hamster wheel. How can I get off of the hamster wheel without jeapordizing the financial well being of my family?

Stay tuned. I’m going to figure this out eventually.

Working from Home — A Diary

21 May

I try to avoid working from home with Little Miss around, as I always feel torn, and feel like either work or my daughter are being ignored.  Today, my daycare is closed in the morning, so I’m giving it a try.  I’m finding that Little Miss is much more self reliant and self entertaining than the last time I attempted this, but I’m also sure there will be some good stories.  So, I decided to chronicle her doings as the morning goes by:

7:30 am – 8:30 am — Killing ants in the back yard with a spray bottle of water.  I’m amazed at how fascinated this has kept her.  After multiple requests for me to refill her water bottle, I show her how to turn on the hose and fill it herself.

8:45 — It’s too quiet.  I go outside to find a flood of water on the bach porch, the hose going full force, and Little Miss riding her bike.  Oh, and Shadow is soaked as well.  Hose turned off, sent her back out to play.

9:30 — Ready for a snack.  She’s eating Pirate’s Booty while I work.  I look over and she has Booty crumbs on her forehead and in her hair. 

9:40 — Done with Booty.  Now she wants a sandwich.  Killing ants must have made her hungry.

9:45 — Not hungry anymore.  Distracted by a toy.

9:50   — Quick break to read.  She wants me to read the Christmas Story.  Now she wants that sandwich.

10:00 — I’m on a call with Ireland, and she’s outside playing with Rolly Pollies and talking to them.

10:30 — I’m done with my call, and find Little Miss in the back yard with her sidewalk chalk, using poor Shadow as a black board.  Who knew a black dog could be so multi-functional?!

11:15 — One benefit of working from home…  Love from a black dog.

12:15 — On a conference call with Washington, Little Miss is playing with Play-Doh beside me, asking me to make her a dog and cat.  Nothing like multi-tasking with Play-Doh.

12:30 — Lunch time.  Time to make my scrumptious chocolate shake.  Ingredients: protein powder, banana, vanilla yogurt, coco powder, psyllium husks, flax oil, agave nectar, soy milk and ice.  Blend in blender  and serve with whipped cream on top.  Score points for serving a nutritional lunch that looks and tastes like a chocolate ice cream shake!

12:45 — Off to daycare, which opens at 1.  I love my girl, but it’s time for Momma to crank out some serious work now.

Returning from Maternity Leave

13 May

A girl on my team at work just returned from maternity leave.  The other day I was marveling at how easy of a time she seems to be having with it, and that’s when I stopped myself as I rehashed my experience…

When I returned from maternity leave, I worked Monday through Thursday, and then had to work 12 hour shifts Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Reno River Festival.  I then had to go right back to work the following Monday, so I worked 12 days in a row without a break.  One of those days was my first Mother’s Day (I’m still bitter about that, as I worked a booth at an event where mothers and their children came in droves).  I can’t tell you how hard it was to return to such a grueling schedule after spending three months of uninterrupted time with my baby.  I physically ached for her presence.

Anyway, about a week after that 12 day stint, I fell while walking with Little Miss in the Bjorn, and she ended up having to get surgery on her fractured septum.  She then had sinus infections for about a month after that, and couldn’t sleep through the night because she couldn’t breathe.

So yeah, I guess I had a hard time, and I’m now realizing that my experience wasn’t normal as I watch what it’s SUPPOSED to be like. 

That’s all.  Just had to vent.  Hopefully next time around, I’ll have one of those normal experiences returning to work.

Is it 5:00 Yet?

11 Mar

And so starts my hell day, as I am project managing a huge event at work today.  There is a knot in my stomach, and I’m keeping my sights set on 5:00 when it will all be over.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

My Favorite Mid-Week Meal

6 Feb

Just had to share with you a soup I’ve been making with my crock pot recently.  I put most of the ingredients in the crock pot before I go to work, and come home to a lovely and delicious meal.

Chicken Tortilla Soup:

1.5 – 2 pounds chicken breasts cut into cubes

One large can low sodium fat free chicken broth

One diced onion

3-4 cloves of garlic diced

2 jalepenos sliced into thin pieces

Pinch of cumin

1 small bag frozen corn kernels

Put the above ingredients in a crock pot on low to simmer all day.  Before serving add 5 corn tortillas cut into small pieces and one bunch of cilantro chopped finely.  Serve with cheese and sour cream on top.

YUM.  And it lasts me for at least three meals.

Jump Little Miss Jump!

13 Dec

Last night, a friend and I took our 2 year olds (OK, Little Miss is a few months shy of that) to Jump Man Jump, which is basically a warehouse filled with bounce houses, inflatable slides and an inflatable obstacle course.  It was fun watching Little Miss’s reaction as we combined one of her favorite playmates with one of her favorite activities.

We had a blast, and I have to send out kudos to Jump Man Jump for having open play hours in the evening so that us working moms can participate in the fun.  I can’t tell you how many cool activities for moms and tots go on during the day in the work week, so I was thrilled to have this opportunity.

It also turned out to be a good workout for Mom, as I jumped up and down like a little kid and scrambled through the obstacle course with Little Miss.  Her playmate was much more adept, and he ended up lapping her several times as she made her way through the course.

It has been challenging now with the time change and cooler weather to find activities that are fun for Little Miss (besides going to the grocery store — woo!).  I think we’ll be frequenting this place throughout the winter. 

And I’m also thinking this could be a really fun team building exercise for my group at work.  Especially if they’d let us go to happy hour beforehand!  😉

Here is a pic of me with the two munchkins on a huge inflatable slide.

jumpmanjump.jpg

Thank God For Minor Miracles

10 Dec

My office Christmas party was this past Saturday.  We stayed out pretty late, going to a Martini bar afterwards, and the Heavens aligned the next morning, when Little Miss slept until a record setting time of 9:30 am.  You people without children don’t know how absolutely amazing that is.  And it’s a good thing, too, because anything earlier would have just plain hurt.

Last year, I felt totally under-dressed for the Christmas party.  So this year, I went out and bought a new dress, hose and stiletto heels.  I paired the outfit with my wedding rhinestone jewelry and guess what?!  I was totally over-dressed this year.  *grumble grumble*  I guess it averages out, eh?  I was barefoot by the end of the night anyway, as I just suck at walking in heels.

Here is a pic of us at the party.  There were two pictures of us — one where I looked good and JB didn’t, and one where he looked good and I didn’t.  Well, since this is my site, I’m posting my good pic, so sorry JB.  Concentrate on opening your eyes next time!

xmaspartycropped.jpg