Saturday, December 14, 2013
I am happy with my job with the exception of one time a year - staff development reviews. They are hard. They are nearly never happy unless you are getting promoted (which is extremely rare) - but even then they find crap you did wrong and harp on it. But especially the year after a promotion. Sucky. My SDR this year sucked. Ok, you talk to AB and he says, "that didn't read bad, it was fine". But I know better. I know those key words.
I was perplexed by a few statements "it is the job of the PM to maintain a cohesive team". Actually not really. That is, of course, a bonus. But the job of the PM is scope, schedule and budget and if one thinks I am not going to piss people off in that, well delusional. Cohesive team? It's a goal of course, but my job? Methinks one does not understand the role of the PM - and this was confirmed in my SDR when my management made the statement that they were still trying to understand the role of the PM.
One of the things that really bothered me was the statement that I was still - after a few years of a major blow up - having PI/PM issues. WTF? I believed it to be legacy. They denied it. I work the PI/PM model with only one other person on active projects presently and he and I get along amazingly well and I am constantly getting kudos from him. So he is either a complete liar or my management is making crap up.
An example was provided to skeptic me and it was VERY obvious which project they were referring to when they talked about an instance with one of my task leads. It's that project where *I* AM THE PI. So I would be having conflicts with my PM? Oh MYSELF! I just about imploded on the spot. This is "written in stone" in my record and to me is simply evidence that my management has no idea what I am doing and never read my contribution report to understand the roles on the 9 projects I am working.
Oh and going back to the cohesive team comment - the example was that a few of my presentations this year weren't as smooth as they could have been - you could tell that multiple people / team members had contributed to the presentation and they could have been smoothed a bit. Ok fine. I buy that. I have two task leaders with VERY different styles - one sends me quarterly slides with only pictures and five words (love him) and the other sends slides with no pictures, jam packed with words and hard to read tables (no love). I try to turn it into my own presentations without completely redoing their work. I know what they are talking about. But wait, wasn't this comment about cohesive teams in reference to my being a PM? Yes? Then why is the example from the project where *I* am the PI and [that other woman] is the PM. Shouldn't this be on HER SDR if this is a PM issue?
"Well if you ever want to promote in this group you need to work on this."
Near implosion again.
I don't recall how we got on to the topic - maybe I mentioned that the group I am spending a lot of time working with was working on a turn around office for me. And then suddenly my management piped up, "have you thought about switching groups?"
Is this a trick question? What do I say? I admit truth, "yes, I have". I have for a few years. At first I thought about leaving my directorate in favor of another - but then their funding tanked and frankly I like my directorate a lot. Then I started working a lot with one of the sister groups.
We discussed some options - I stay in this group and have my office over there. I switch groups. They gave me the option of thinking about it and all I could think of was, "oh believe me, I have been thinking about this for a year". But I hadn't been ready to pull the trigger.
I pulled that dang trigger.
It was agreed that management would talk. I would speak with the other manager. She would talk to her staff and then our division director would provide a recommendation.
And the result of this few weeks of work came down yesterday. In the hallway, I ran into my current manager. Final in a day or so, I am leaving.
Hasta la vista!
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I am really, really happy with it.
I messed around with some brownish-tan colors. I wanted a shade darker than the "brown teepee" that we have settled on for the neutral throughout the first floor. But they all seemed icky and weird. Or not darker. I needed something that would go with the neutral but compliment the grey in the dining room (diagonal and not directly attached the living room), the remaining "white" in the living room/kitchen, the green in the foyer (that is growing on me - AB likes it - I was iffy for awhile). I didn't want to pull the grey into the living room, but that was starting to look like an option.
I finally went and bought some browns that were so way darker than everything else and then we had the difficult task of narrowing down the choice because we - surprisingly - liked them all.
So it is dark. It is chocolate-esque.
And I love it.
The area over the couch still needs something - it is a very large brown space. But that is the fun part! Getting to look for art on our future trips to fill in the space. I don't have a burning desire to fill it in now. I can wait - and I often do wait - until I find the PERFECT pieces for us.
December Goal? Survive and make Christmas.
Monday, November 18, 2013
I found this one in Skadi's backpack from her friend, Rebecca.
"Water Princess - Rebecca
Snow Princess - Skadi
Snow melts into water. We are both a pice of snow. Snow is just frozen water. I am abull to turn into snow and ice. We have a different ability. We both can take care of penguins"
I personally loved the last line.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Friday, November 15, 2013
I was invited back to Reno to the University this fall when I was notified that Congratulations, I had been awarded the "Young Alumni of the Year" award for UNR. I immediately questioned whether they had the right person... they did say "young". And well I am 12 years out of my Ph.D. But apparently you are young if you graduated less than 15 years ago. They asked me if I would attend and I couldn't resist even though all I could envision was swollen boobs and pumping around the clock and my husband dealing with a baby for a few nights.
But how often are you awarded this type of award really? I had to go.
I booked my flight, booked my room at Circus Circus ($49/night special - can always count on the Circus) and it was on.
I arrived and wandered around the Circus Circus, Silver Legacy and Eldorado complex. I rode the Circus Circus train over to the tower where my (actually very nice) corner room was. While on the train two girls sat across from me. I asked them where they got their Starbucks, making a mental note for tomorrow. Then one of them eyed me and said it... "where are you from?" I suppose it was the tone. It wasn't "oh, where are YOU from?" It was "where are you FROM?" Like I had probably never been there before. Hard to explain. Anyways, I told them and added the caveat - "but I lived here for about 6 years in the late 90's.
It was like walking into a 12 year time warp. The big dome with the rig is still there. Only a lonely ghost hanging out for Halloween - no laser light show that I saw. If you haven't seen this, it is huge. Like 4-5 stories tall I think. Humongous.
The Bistro Roxy is still there - first martini bar I ever entered. And outside is the fabulous Bacchus statue. Same same.
The next morning I was up nice and early courtesy of the melons attached to my chest. I got up, gazed at my old stomping grounds... and went for a drive before meeting my graduate advisor (now the chair).
|UNR viewed from my Circus Circus Room.|
|The Vietnamese restaurant across from Circus Circus that we used to frequent.|
But there were the bad times. The upstairs neighbors at that place that still make me bristle. The management of the complex that spontaneously lost every noise complaint filed. Resulting in the one and only time I have had to mentally restrain myself from knocking the living shit out of someone.
We had previously had a great apartment in South Reno with wonderful walking paths nearby. But we wanted a dog - and they wouldn't let us have a dog. Sad. The second floor apartment here is our first Reno apartment. Where I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner. Where we were sleeping when a 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit.
I drove over to our old walking/running path and called my advisor to see if he was ready to meet.
|Reno from the South|
We walked around the new buildings on campus and it appears that the University is doing quite well with the new buildings. But I got to learn about the other side of things. The state funding side from my former advisor. I learned that they have a wonderful piece of equipment that they can't even set up because they have no money to pay for the argon to run it. Sad. I fear for the future of my department.
So I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise how that evening went at the Alumni recognition event. I was whisked in - I was a bit late because Reno has changed A LOT. I saw faculty from my department and was anxious to get over and stand with people I knew. I am not good with small talk. Though I have to admit I think I am getting better.
Nope. I was ushered past the people I knew and whisked up to the Dean, who shook my hand and shook my hand. Told where I would sit - with a large donor family (whose son was also being honored) and then *I* became the dog and pony show.
I met donor after donor and was (embarrasingly) lauded as a huge chemistry department success. I chose Nevada for grad school because I wanted a small department where I would have a good chance at success because I had absolutely no confidence I would succeed otherwise. I loved my time at UNR. I had a great class I entered with (about 50% graduating success I think) and I felt I left with an excellent education that spanned chemistry and physics.
I am an introvert. I am a woman. As I learned from the Lean In book, the fact that I shun recognition is probably more of a quality of being a typical woman. I looked around the table that night at the man (and his family) who was also being honored and he beamed at pride at every recognition while his wife made certain to remind everyone how MANY awards from the University he had achieved in the past few years. Really a smart and entreprenuerial guy actually. I kind of envied him. Actually I envied his self assuredness. I tried to sit up straight and stick my chest out like he did. Then I became increasingly aware of my swollen melons and worried they might rupture... when last did I pump anyways?
When the Dean read my list to the audience I know my face was beet red. And those at "my" table looked at me with jaws dropped. I wanted to make excuses - it was my teams. They deserve all the success. Not me.
Then I canned it. I went through hell for a few years with an extremely difficult team situation and strong personalities who wouldn't be sidelined. Until he was.
I freaking deserved this.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Life has been good lately. Really good. Sometimes too good to be true? Some concern I guess that as soon as I post something, the tide will turn? People will think I am bragging? I will think I am bragging?
I am not sure what it is really. Maybe if I get a post out of my system I will be able to move on. Not sure, but let's see if I can actually convince myself to hit publish this time.
So life is good. Work is good. For the most part.
I am in that phase after a successful project whereby I am receiving awards for receiving awards. I have management eyeing me with scrutiny... can she maintain the momentum? What can we nitpick so that she knows she isn't top of the hill? And politics. Egads politics. All the while I am trying to "Lean In", but actually feeling thwarted a fair bit... and by people who should know better.
So let's get the awards out of the way. I received a lab director's award for the national awards we received for the Navy work. I joked that I hoped it wouldn't confuse too many people that my award hanging in my office looks exactly like the one of the new lab fellows. Ok done. One award out of the way.
Next award. I received a Young Alumni award from my graduate university for my work. I have been planning a blog that goes more into this and about my visit back to Reno. My view for the first time of the state of things from my advisor's (now chair) perspective. My view of Reno after having been gone for 11.5 years (yes, I miss it). My view of being a "one woman dog and pony show" for an evening (gag). So second one, done.
See that wasn't too hard.
Next topic... Students. So part of the reason I got the award from the university is probably that my program wasn't high end. They turn out a good product. But I have laughed at times about how I occasionally have the opportunity to write letters of recommendation to institutions that I would have never even considered actually applying to! Well I have a new one. I have been receiving inquiries from students graduating from prestigious schools looking for jobs.
I had an entire post written about this and how it was driving me crazy. Not that I was getting my fragile ego stroked, but about how badly these students were doing this. It was a bit horrifying and the vast majority of students I have concluded that there is a reason that they are scraping the bottom of the barrel (i.e., me) in looking for a job. And you know what? They aren't getting one from me either.
Next topic... Annual Review. Not surprisingly my first year after promotion I managed to "achieve expectations". I don't care about the C rating. I heard you "always" get to achieve expectations after promotion. What killed me was some of the things that were written and then as the nature goes with privacy, everything is so vague. How am I supposed to change or improve if I can't have specifics on which team feels that I am not managing them... but only to find out after poking, prodding and digging that it is the team where I AM NOT EVEN THE PROJECT MANAGER.
Yes, makes sense. Or how about the one where I am taking over the technical side and not sticking on my side of the PM fence? UMM I AM CO-PI OF THAT PROJECT.
Every year I get more and more of an impression what a load of crap the annual reviews are. It honestly becomes hard to take them very seriously when they seem first, incredibly subjective and second, very ill informed. 99.5% of the year I love my job and know that I am doing a good job. But then that other 0.5% of the year is there to knock you down.
This year I made the decision that it is time for a change.
To be continued...
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Anyways, the scoop is:
Weight: 21 lbs 14 oz (95.65% because those sig figs are important...)
Length: 28" (88.66%)
Weight: 19 lbs
Weight: 21 lbs 14.5 oz (95%)
Length: 27.25" (81%)
On Oct 30, Silas popped his first tooth through! Early as compared to Leif.
He also seems to have strange anxiety. His doctor noted that this is a sign of high cognitive development when she walked in and he screamed at her and the nurse. I think he was just fussy and late for nap time...
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Saturday, October 05, 2013
Leif: "Yes, but they probably aren't there now."
Me: "Oh yeah, because our house elves came."
Minutes later the dishwasher is acting up.
Me: "Hans guess what you get to fit in today among everything else?"
Skadi: "What about the house elves?"
Skadi: "No I just want to buy cookies."
Saturday, August 31, 2013
But I do feel guilty about one thing.
It might look innocuous enough. My son telling me that I make his heart flutter and saying he loves me. Sweet huh? And brings me loads of guilt.
See it is traumatic enough that I haven't talked about it since it happened. A few days before Mother's Day.
AB says I should have known what was in it! It's obvious right? "Flutter" and in a paper bag, must open it right now and not wait 2 days till Mother's Day. Oh and that they raised butterflies from caterpillars in class.
Well I missed all the warning signs.
It isn't that I don't like butterflies. I do. They are beautiful. It isn't that I don't like gifts. I love gifts, particularly thoughtful ones from my son. It isn't that I don't like surprises. Well I don't really, but that isn't really the point.
Every year we raise butterflies from caterpillars at home. Then we release them.
Awww! My chunky baby girl with her flame red hair! Wow, how time flies. Anyways...
Note that is AB's hand. He reaches in and pulls the butterflies out. The kids play with them and when the butterflies get tired, they fly off.
Note that *I* am not in any of these pictures.
I stand safely behind the camera at a distance of about 5-6 feet away from the crazy fluttering that may ensue.
Oh and we love the Pacific Science Center's butterfly pavillion!
And I step gingerly inside with the fear that something like this may happen to me. And I might scream some. And please, please, please don't let me slap at it.
It's a location I probably shouldn't even visit. Because I have to supress that desire to squeal a little and flick something off me should it land on me. And I would probably hurt something like this:
And then I would feel awful and they would probably kick me out.
So back to that paper bag that I should have known what was in it.
The freaking butterfly flew into my face and I screamed. And I panicked.
And Leif tried to calm me down - "it's ok mom, it's just my butterfly".
And he probably said something about having raised it from a baby caterpillar all himself.
And I shoo'd it out the door and off he flew.
That's my mommy guilt.
Leif tells me it's ok now. He was maybe a bit sad about it at the time, he says. But he is fine now. The butterfly got released into the wild (neighborhood) and that is a good thing. Maybe it will have babies now?
But my guilt remains. It was his Mother's Day gift to me and I freaked. I should not have freaked. I must reign in this fear of fluttery flying things. Must do it before my daughter enters 2nd grade and brings her paper bag Mother's Day gift home. Or at least by then I will remember and it will be obvious when she brings home a bag of a butterfly.
For a little bit there I despised his teacher. How could she not warn us that a fluttery flying thing was coming into the house? But she is such a nice lady, I couldn't blame her for long.
Nope, this is the mommy guilt that *I* carry.
Of course I did set the bar pretty low - organize the school stuff drawer, the desk in the kitchen, and get the kids' school stuff together. Then organize a calendar that is easy to use and that I don't have to spend time rewriting each month.
And the chair bags. Sew two chair bags for my kids school stuff. I wanted bags to hang on the back of their chairs, in fabric they would each like (and therefore use). No more "mom, where did my homework go?" Nope, because when the table needs to be cleared, the unfinished homework could go in the chair bag. And there are pencils and scissors and erasers and crayons there ready access!
Ok, so it wasn't hit OUT of the park. But I hit a homerun at least.
Got the stuff organized, kids got their school supplies with 18 hours to spare, and I built an Excel color coded calendar that is super easy to update. (I love Excel.)
I thought I wasn't going to make it, then Silas had pink eye and needed to stay home. And then the internet went down preventing me from working from home during the afternoon nap. And that fabric stood there staring at me.
So I whipped them out.
I may have whipped too hard. I should have gone slower and actually measured, made a pattern or found one online.
They are done and functional. But don't look too closely at them!
What I would change? I would use some contrasting fabric. And I would measure. I didn't like the way they ended up hanging from the top of the chair, so I flipped the ties around to the side, even though they weren't really made for that. I used corduroy for Skadi's bag. Nice and durable and stiff. For Leif's I used regular cotton stuff. It's a bit flimsy.
But hey! They are done and functional and I didn't really make them as a style piece more than a functional piece. And functional they are!
I think maybe I wanted to embark on the Master Bedroom for September? Anyways, I can't remember. But I don't have it in me to do the Master Bedroom for September, both from a monetary perspective (stupid car and trailer repairs) and time.
Instead Skadi has been begging for her quilt. And she is tired of her Dora comforter. So my September goal is to at least start on her quilt. I am so pleased with the horribly expensive professional quilt job on our bed quilt, that I am even thinking about forking out the dough for long arm service on her quilt.
There, September goal set!
Sunday, August 04, 2013
Saturday, July 27, 2013
I am thinking I am going to get back to the monthly goals things. I have always enjoyed this, I have a list of projects to complete and life is starting to settle down a bit since Silas’ arrival. So here goes!
August will be organization month for school! Yay school! I will be so happy when I am no longer paying for summer camps for the kids. They love them really. We need them, because neither AB nor I are staying home. So it is a necessary evil, but bah. I am tired of hauling kids, wonky schedules, remembering to apply sunscreen and begging the kids to remember to apply sunscreen as well.
I have a few small tasks/chores to accomplish before school starts. This will be a good month for small baby steps since we have a crazy month of travel/camping/houseguests ahead of us.
Task #1 – Chair bags
You know how the kids do their homework at the table and then you have to eat there and you clear the table and then you hear, “mom, where did my homework go?”
I am going to fix that.
I bought fabric for each kid last spring – yellow with skulls for Leif and a crazy pink pattern for Skadi. But I didn’t get around to doing this while on maternity leave, then summer happened and I didn’t really need the bags, so it fell off my to do list. Basically each kid will have a bag that fits on their chair at the kitchen table. When we need to clear the table, their school work goes into the chair bag. Their library books are also going to go there. I am also going to step it up and put pockets on the front to house a few pencils and eraser for each kid, colored pencils and scissors. So that they don’t need to dig through the school supplies drawer in search of these things 142 times a day (see below).
Task #2 – School supplies drawer
Badly needs organizing since my kids think they need to dig into it 142 times a day (see above). Skadi will have fun though testing every.single.marker in that drawer to see which ones work and which ones don’t.
Task #3 – Calendar
I usually use these big Post It calendars to organize our month. But then I have to rewrite two a month – because I want one at work. And some things never change. I need a template in Excel. Must create one.
Then coming up? Master Bedroom and our Living Room!
Our Master bedroom has never been anything special – I don’t have a single thing on the walls even! We sleep there and store our clothes there. But now I have a new quilt I made that I love. And AB has made a bed – 75% complete and if I can ever decide what I want for a headboard, it might get to 90% complete. AB declares that he loves Silas’ bedroom. He goes in there and sits with Silas and finds it so tranquil. He attributes this to the paint color. We are going to paint our room the same soft toffee color. It will match the quilt perfectly. And I would love to figure out some storage options for that room. Problem is, I don’t even know what I need. But every flat surface we have becomes covered. I would like this to be our September task… but it might get pushed to November when I will have a week off work to really work it.
The Living Room is up there too. We are thinking new flooring – the Brazilian Teak we put in the office and formal dining room. Take out the nasty carpet and put the teak in there. Get a big rug then. I would love, love, love to replace our furniture. Move the sectional up to the playroom and get new furniture. But unless we get a windfall that isn’t happening. But a fresh coat of paint and some wall hangings would go a long way with the new floors. I have the paint color and everything – just extending the taupe from the foyer and the other two rooms. And I have one accent wall to do something fun with. Fun tbd!
But September might be devoted to the back yard. We may be ready to start pulling out the sod and putting in the start of our backyard seating/kitchen.
It’s been a busy, busy summer. Things have just started to slow down the past few weeks though. I had a few minutes and thought, “I should blog!” And immediately wondered… about what? Seems I may have forgotten how to blog? Yet, I love this form of journaling just to remember things, document my kids and connect with those people close to us (or not). So I guess I will just start an update of sorts and see where it carries us.
First child first – Leif
Leif is in his last week ever to be 8 years old. I loved being 8 years old. I fear that 9 years old is just a hop from being a tween. Leif is a fun kid, but very much a mama’s boy. He likes all things games – board games, electronic games, games, games, games. He loves the computer and the Wii and the Kindle. We bought him a Kindle for his birthday and I keep telling myself he can read on it! He will read on it! It will be fun and exciting and he will read on it! And just as a side note, he could do some games too. But mostly, he can read on it!
Yeah, we will see how that goes.
Skadi my lady
Six years old and going into 1st grade! Like me, the child loves school. She was sad when kindergarten finished, despite it being a touch of a rough year (Skadi is destined to forever have issues with teachers I fear). And all summer she has been asking when she gets to go back to school. She is READY for first grade. I am really hoping that she gets the same teacher that Leif had and I even probably crossed the line when I filled out her personality sheet to assist in selecting a teacher and it says ALL over the thing I cannot request a teacher by name and I did. Or at least I wrote that we would very much appreciate a teacher with the same organized structure as Mrs. H. Or something like that. I have heard that those people who do go ahead and violate the rule and request a teacher, usually get it.
This summer Skadi is doing the summer camp circuit with her brother. She loves Adventure Camp at the health club. She really loved horse camp. She actually and amazingly enough, loved basketball camp through the city. She has loved everything this summer. This week the kids (and me) are getting a break though and they have a babysitter. Don’t all kids need to hang out at home and declare boredom repeatedly? Leif is loving it, but so far this is NOT shaping up as Skadi’s thing. She is a social beast and hanging out with her brother and babysitter are NOT exactly her idea of fun.
Silas Silas sweety pie
Yes, he really is rolling over front to back and back to front. And yes, I know this is really really early. When I posted this on Facebook I received some skepticism. But he does it with intent and consistency at home and daycare. Yes, according to the average baby stuff, he is about 3 months early with this milestone. Really I chalk it up to him being a third child who is very observant. He is absolutely bound and determined to keep up with his brother and sister. He likes sitting and laughing at them – and they like that too. But the real fun will be had when he can run off with them. Since hitting the rolling milestone at 3 months and 3 days (consistently) he has been working on toning his stomach muscles. He strains and struggles to sit himself upright whether he is on your lap, laying in a boppy or in his swing/bouncey seat. He also seems to know that in order to propel himself forward the knees need to come up. But his little arms don’t want to hold his body weight yet, so this just results in a face plant.
Monday, June 10, 2013
I am back at work.
I am pretty sure I had about 10 weeks off, but right now it seems to be only a vague recollection. A blur. Where did it go?
Everyone was positive I was going to have the baby early. Even me. Though I kept in the back of my head how ironic if I were overdue with this one like I was with the other two. Well irony struck. I was tired and very pregnant and having contractions for about 3 weeks (one day I would be certain we were headed to the hospital in a few hours, and the next not a single contraction) before he came. When Silas was born I had been off about 2 weeks, which was really, really nice to have that time to myself.
The hardest part during that time was convincing myself not to respond to work stuff. I had a delegate for a reason. Then there was the dealing with people, which isn’t always my forte. My own kids wondered when the baby was going to come and it was a huge unknown to them. AB and I knew what to expect, basically, but conveying that to the kids just wasn’t working well. The baby was doing gymnastics and the kicks were visible and painful. The kids found it hilarious. I got tired of the hilarity. Then there is the other people outside my little family. The friend who asks, “are you sure you are having contractions?” The work stress – losing out on leading a major program because they needed someone “there”. (I get it, really I do, but it was stressful.)
Then we had the baby (see the birth story), but the complications didn’t stop there in our world. With the other two, the baby was born and we went home. With Silas, he was born and we stayed because of his multiple issues. The hardest thing about him not coming home was that AB used all his time off from work running kids around. He felt very gipped that he didn’t have that week home with Silas and me. I was a “boarder mom” and had food available to me and a bed and shower just down the hall from Silas. AB had to get the kids up and on the bus, feed them meals/make lunches and because they were also concerned and wanted baby and mommy time, he fielded them back and forth to the hospital daily. Then home for baths and bedtime. I was bored in the hospital, and AB was run ragged.
I was starting to feel gipped in many ways too. I felt like my maternity leave was slowly dripping by, no one was going to extend it because the first nearly 1/6 of it in my mind, “didn’t count”. I didn’t get those first pictures of him straight after birth (or even days later) on my chest. Then the first few weeks of photos after he got home were icky as his face was all marred up from the tape they used to tape the tubes in place. If we went out (even just to the doctor’s offices), people glared at me and asked what happened to his face, did he get scratched already? They softened dramatically when I would explain it was a reaction to the tape from the tubes he had in his throat. And even when we were barely keeping heads above water going through things we didn’t anticipate, we had the people factor. The person who the “exact same thing happened to them” - or so they say, but they don’t really listen to hear that it isn’t “the exact same thing”. Or the person who thinks you aren’t doing things just right. Or the person who acknowledges that their situation was completely different, but I should make sure that I do X, Y and Z. (And maybe only Y is semi-applicable.) Or the people who don’t read. The ones I texted or e-mailed that it was a bad day with the baby in the NICU and they would reply, “glad to hear everything is going well!!!” (Two of those.)
A few years ago a friend of mine had twins who went into the NICU. I don’t remember why, but he had stopped by the house a day or two after they were born to get something I was loaning him. I had packaged up our leftover soup from dinner (Chicken enchilada soup with all the fixings) and sent it with him. For months after his girls were home he raved to me about that meal, how I didn’t know how helpful that was and how good it tasted after all the hospital and fast food they had recently.
Now I know how helpful it was. Should I ever (and I am sure I will) know someone with a baby in the NICU, I will provide a meal during that time. It was so generous of people to provide meals to us and it was nice to have them when I was home. But the value of having food for AB and the kids when I wasn’t there, that he didn’t have to fix was tremendous. Once I was home we could work together to get meals. It was so much harder when AB was shouldering everything for 5 days.
We got home and I went into my reclusive self. I would get up and get the kids ready and on the bus. And then I would spend the day with Silas, watching TV, napping, doing laundry, doing little projects around the house… Occasionally I would have people stop by to hold Silas and visit. It was always welcome, but as a recluse I found it a bit stressful by myself. I would have to make myself presentable – harder than I had remembered with my other two! Pick up the house a bit. And get Silas ready. With a newborn it just takes longer to do everything. I had a few people drop by during those first few weeks and I tried to be thankful that people cared and wanted to see us, but I would find myself fuming because I didn’t really want my secret out that I spend an hour (or so) in the morning in my pajamas with a baby stuck on top of me and watching Downton Abby!
We did get into a groove and I quit napping – knowing that my leave would be coming to an end and napping at work is generally frowned upon.
I even managed to get me and the other two kids out of the house on a semi-regular basis.
I formed an addiction to Starbucks Caramel Macchiato. And Great Harvest Cinnamon Burst bread.
I wandered Target constrained only by how long my baby would sleep.
I spent Fridays with my husband and no children who could speak.
I ate at nice restaurants for lunch on Fridays with my husband – places we could only take a newborn.
I let the umbilical cord to my other two stretch some by letting them go to the bus stop by themselves.
I didn’t read. Well much anyways. I am a reader, but for some reason reading wasn’t appealing to me while I was on leave. It would have required I take my eyes off my newborn. And that wasn’t happening.
I didn’t check my work e-mail. I had permission to do so, but I resisted for the most part.
I made homemade cookies a lot.
(And I ate a lot of homemade cookies. )
I snapped 87923 photos of my newborn. At least. Maybe more.
I may have forgotten I had pets that also wanted attention. Poor pets.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Monday, May 06, 2013
People like to tell parents of newborns to enjoy this time as it passes so quickly. I am sure I have done the same. But right now I find that statement annoying.
As a mom of three I know very well how quickly time flies. But beyond that I have a new outlook with number three. I love having a newborn. But I know from experience that all the best is yet to come. It only gets better as you see them learn to do things for themselves, they learn to read, they make friends, they discover what they love.
Babies are awesome. But there is so much more to look forward to.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Born: 8 lbs 11 oz, 20.5"
Left Hospital 4 days later: 8 lbs 2 oz
7 Days Old: 8 lbs 4 oz
9 Days Old: 8 lbs 6 oz, 21.5" (Length 98th percentile, Weight/Length Ratio Percentile 4th)
13 Days Old: 8 lbs 15 oz
15 Days Old: 9 lbs 3 oz, 22" (70th percentile and 90th percentile)
Age 6 years 1 month well child visit 4/25/13
Weight 45 lbs - 50th percentile
Height 44" - 37th percentile
Monday, April 01, 2013
Since Leif was very young he has seen value in money. The kid gets a dime and holds tight to it. We used to tell him to save his money for something he would like to buy. He just saves his money. The only thing he wants to buy is more money, so when a game my Dad bought for him (Fortune Street) introduced the concept of buying stocks and he learned that it is really something you can do - make your money grow by investing it - he was all over it.
He has his own Sharebuilder account and keeps track of it.
Skadi is the complete opposite. Can't hold on to a dime to save her life. Part of this I blame on Leif at an early age. She would offer him money and he would take it. We finally had to institute a rule, "your sister does NOT need to pay you off!"
But still, money? In one hand, out her other.
She came home one day with a "Pennies for Patients" box from school and an intense obligation in her heart to fill the thing to the brim.
I tried to stop her, "honey, you don't need to fill the ENTIRE box, maybe you should keep some of your change?" And she looked at me completely perplexed. And I thought about it. What does she do with her money? Nothing. Lose it?
"Nevermind," I said, "if you want to empty your piggy bank into the box, that is fine."
And she did. Then she went to my change jar and filled up the remainder with change from my jar because she couldn't possibly take the box in 2/3 full when there are sick kids who need the money.
Leif came home and threw his box to the side. I thought about pushing him to donate some change, but then I hefted the box that Skadi had filled and didn't pursue it further.
Sunday school has started introducing the notion of the tithe with the kids. AB and I give to our church and feel this is an important aspect of our attendance and following. We are supportive of this with the kids. Most Sundays Skadi is scrambling for change to take for her offering. While Leif looks at us and rolls his eyes, "give money? Why?" Then he rolls them at his sister for even bringing the topic up.
The other day Leif announced that he thought he would like to use some of his money to buy Skylanders for the Wii. Again my first impulse was, "really, you want to spend $50 on that?"
Then AB looked at me. This was a first. We are thinking this is about the first time leif has willingly taken his own money and spent it on anything for himself. Yes, seriously. The kid is patient and will wait until his birthday or Christmas and then ask for the coveted item. And if he doesn't get it, he moves on.
Skadi on the other hand... one of her grandpas sent her $10 for her birthday. That $10 is burning a big huge and ugly hole in her pocket. My recent willingness to go stroll around Target has been about nill since reaching 38-39 weeks pregnant since the $10 bill came in the mail. And this is REALLY cramping her style. She has $10!!! There are TOYS to buy!
I keep reminding her not to lose it as when it is gone, that is it.
"Mommy, if you have to go to the hospital tonight to have the baby, will you take my $10 and keep it safe?" she asked me.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
But you know those people - the ones that are just so nice and kind and generous with their time, money, career, etc.? Those of us who don't fit into that mold tend to wonder if it is for real. Well it is. Because no one not genuine could maintain that facade for long, I am convinced.
My ob is one of those people. I, on a rare occasion, have seen glints of frustration as he has come from another room containing a "wimpy" patient. But 99.5% of the time that I have known him, nicest person in.the.world.
I see these women walk into his office, hugely pregnant, finishing the last drag on their cigarette outside before setting foot in the office (but hovering with the door open), hauling their strung out looking boyfriends/husbands who are wearing pajama pants with them, cussing up a storm. And I cringe.
And then I hear him in the room with them next door, full of compassion and kindness. And I feel guilty.
I couldn't do that. I know a little about his history from the occasional friendship we have forged outside of the office. His passion in life is treating not women like me (educated, able to support ourselves), but poverty level women with few options in life. In addition to his MD, he has a Masters in Public Health and has a keen understanding of how the care (or lack of) a woman receives in her doctor's office translates to her acceptance in social situations and her ability to raise her family. He hopes to retire from his practice soon (has scaled it back to 2 days a week in the office presently) and move to Central America and practice medicine among the third world inhabitants there.
I wanted to go to medical school once. And each time I have been in a hospital be it for birthing my kids or having my gall bladder out I have wistfully wondered what it would be like to be a physician and have longed for that experience of walking through the halls of a hospital. I wanted to be a nurse until I was about 5 when my nurse grandmother said, "you don't want to be a nurse, you want to be a doctor!"
I had a stint in there where I wanted to be an astronaut. Then a teacher. But for the vast majority of my school life I wanted to be a doctor. I scored very average on the MCAT. I worked in a doctor's office for 5 years. I had an "in" to the local med school through my college employer (a dermatologist) who was also a professor at the medical school one half day a week.
Then I dumped it all and went to grad school.
I wanted to be a plastic surgeon actually. While in college I would fill in with one of my doctor's good friends when he was short staffed in his Reconstructive Surgery office. I loved it. But wow it seemed like a long haul. Medical School, Surgical Residency, Plastic Surgery Residency...
I told AB about how I noted that I just did not have what it took to do what my ob does every day. See these women and be compassionate about their situation, when I would really just want to slap them upside the head. I would be the most frustrated person around.
"But you would have never gone into obstetrics," AB said the other night. "You would so be spending your days doing boob jobs intermingled with the occasional pro bono case! You would still have your wackos to deal with, they would just be different wackos."
He is right. It's dang good I went into research and not medicine because I do not regularly have to work with wackos at all this way.
And it isn't just in medicine where you find these nicest people ever. I truly have some of the nicest friends ever. And I wonder what it would take - how they do it? If they don't have that same voice in their head that I do?
Well, I guess it is something for me to work on.
After I birth this baby, because right now it just isn't in me!
Friday, March 22, 2013
It's March, Easter is coming up, if you don't have kids in school you may wonder what the big deal is. So here it is... St. Patrick's Day. Once a day when you just made sure your child (ok me, I was that age) wore green when they walked out of the house so they don't get pinched? Now a holiday. Not a holiday in that kids are out of school, but a big celebration with green food, Leprechaun trap building, etc. Then there are the complaints of what some kids are handing out for Valentine's Day - fancy little bags of goodies instead of just a card. Take it back another few weeks to Christmas and everyone points to the "creepy" new tradition of Elf on the Shelf. Some have even started complaining about Advent calendars - which are not a new thing and I loved mine as a kid.
Well I have already blogged about the supposed "creepy" Elf on the Shelf. Basically we bought it and love it and don't find it creepy - which seems to be the key word people use who don't buy in. "It's creepy."
I am a big fan of holidays. Love them. In today's day and age with so much crummy news and things we need to shelter our kids from, I am all for embracing the fun and frivolty of a handful of days a year to celebrate random things.
We aren't really Irish, though the red hair tricks many. More Scandinavian and my red hair (hence my kids' as well) comes from my Swedish grandmother. But St. Patty's day? It's a hit here. The kids love corned beef, which I fix once a year on March 17th. They love building leprechaun traps and they get more elaborate every year. This year my son's was rigged with motion sensors - making things pretty interesting...
Fun. It's all it is.
We pick and choose with holidays. I get tired of all the freaking candy at holidays and my personal annoyance is when every holiday becomes a gift giving occasion. My kids get "presents" on their birthdays and Christmas. For Easter they will get small little things I don't think of as presents out of the dollar bins in their baskets - chalk, jump rope, a stuffed rabbit (for Skadi). For Valentine's Day, my daughter got a pink teddy bear, because she loves that stuff (and her chocolates still sit untouched). I don't have time to spend hours working on Valentine's, so my kids picked out the ones with a card and a piece of candy attached. And so far - neither the nearly 6 year old or 8 year old has complained at all. I like to think they know better.
Back to my point... the blog posts asking to scale back the holidays.
You don't like it? Don't do it! Quit succumbing to parental peer pressure and the assumption that if it is posted on Pinterest that "everyone" else is doing it and your child will feel left out if they don't have baggies of rainbow licorice and gold coins for St. Patty's Day. Your kids will deal.
St. Patty's day? I cooked dinner. My kids built their traps themselves (ok, dad couldn't resist in helping Skadi incorporate her ceiling fan into hers) as they have been doing since they were 3 years old in preschool with access to paper and tape. And that was that.
And you know what, if my children EVER complained that they don't get to do all the stuff their friends do they will get a stern lecture.
My son at chess club (over Christmas) told one of his friends about the underwear episode with our Elf, Mina. (Mina decorated the untrimmed tree with his underwear.) The boy told his mom in my presence and she looked at me, rolled her eyes (not in a horrible way, we have been acquainted for 1.5 years now through the boys) and said, "oh you are one of THOSE moms."
Yes, I am one of those moms who loves to have fun and do silly things with my kids that make them laugh and adds to their magic of the holidays. That when they are 28 will look back and laugh and say to me, "mom, do you remember when you, I mean the Elf, decorated the tree with my underwear?"
Yep, I am one of those moms.