April 6, 2016

24 hours, Part 2: juggling and the baby dash

24 hours, Part 2: Baby Coworker Around 6 am, the snorfling starts. This kid is nothing like me – goes from asleep to wide awake in less than three winks – so any waking movement is The Real Deal.

PiC’s already up and initiating the daddy+baby morning routine so I pass out again, dozing until 7 am.

I brush my teeth and check email for any emergencies. Nothing this morning so I take over feeding LB, give Seamus his morning meds, and strap LB into the stroller and head out for a walk. PiC usually takes them for a walk before I get up but since I’m up early, he might as well get a head start on getting ready.

We come back 30 minutes later for blocks and song: ze stands at the block box handing me one at a time, bobbing hir head to my song. Ze hands me one block, I hand hir another. Rinse and repeat.

Ze spies PiC around the corner, not paying attention to either of us. Opportunity! Ze makes a crawl-dash for the dog’s water bowl. Seamus’s water bowl beckons to hir irresistably. We head off some dashes, the others result in flying hir to the sink after ze has a good splash in his bowl. Seamus is NOT amused.

Hands washed, it’s book time.  I start to read Tremendous Tractors at the book bench, ze leans up against the bench to listen for half a page, then starts sorting. This book is for … you. This book is for … you. This book is for … Seamus. This book is for … you. Halfway through reading, Busy Hands has handed me the entire stack of books. Rinse and repeat for the second half of the reading.

Next up: musical toys. Some toys are for sharing, like the blocks and Legos, some are for pulling apart and flinging about. This is one of the latter. Ze prefers to fly solo as ze wrestles the rings off the stand and discards them over a shoulder. Naturally I very helpfully undo all hir work as ze finishes, placing the parts all back on the stand again. This is worth about 20 minutes.

One of hir other musical toys goes off. Over my shoulder, I see Seamus grin and tuck his paw under his chin. THANKS.

A frown, an eye-rub. Then a bigger frown and a double eye-rub. Ze won’t admit it but the fatigue is upon hir and it’s time to warm a bottle. We’ll be weaning off the bottle soon, so we’re in a transition period of bottles before naps and sippy cups after. We bounce on the yoga ball on the way to the sofa. Bottle clutched in chubby hands, tiny feet propped up on my lap, we relax for a few minutes. And I check email again. All’s quiet, just routine stuff, so I enjoy a moment of almost-cuddling with my squirmy worm.

Bottle polished off, ze hands it to me and contemplates hir full belly with a half smile. Time was, ze would finish  bottle and throw it like a football. I like this new development. LB settles down after 9 am and Seamus gets breakfast. Now, it’s my time: get a glass of water, find my glasses, my computer, and dive into work. But first: sweatpants!

I get an hour and a quarter on Nap 1. I mowed down all urgent and important emails, jot to-do list for the rest of my work day. Caught up on some projects and even unexpectedly finish a call early so I process an Amazon return and package up the box to drop off at the post office. Prep the first load of laundry, it’ll be ready for drying sometime when ze gets up.

A wail. That’s never good. Ze normally wakes up and plays for a while, then yells for rescue, but ze has been running a fever the past few days and evidently ze’s miserable again. I hold hir for a while. Ze doesn’t want food or water, doesn’t want to be put down but doesn’t want to be held like that either. We sit on the ground with some toys, sadly looking at one, then another, until my silly song and toy rattling coaxes a smile to the surface. Soon enough it’s submerged under tears, again. This calls for a change in scenery, and we also need milk.

Seamus is appalled. We’re obviously going outside, but we’re not taking him with us??? It’s literally unbelievable. He walks out the front door to wait outside because surely we don’t mean to go anywhere without him. Except, we must. We’re going to walk to the grocery store and he’s not allowed inside. I’m certainly not tying him up outside, someone might steal him. And I can’t tie him outside with LB. I think that’s frowned on.

Heavy with guilt, I lock up, leaving him to contemplate the traitorous nature of Humans.

The outing helps hir mood. I pick up groceries, then we struggle our way back home. It’s a long bracing walk but I seem to have caught hir bug. Everything is heavier, more exhausting. It takes us 45 minutes, round trip.

I get a text from PiC as we arrive home and start coaxing some food into the somewhat refreshed baby. Between bites, we realize that he’d failed to plan his day all the way through and now needs to be picked up. He’s tried asking a few friends if they were in the area but I thought it unlikely so I dose hir up with ibuprofen (doc’s orders!), strap hir into the harness, and we plod back outside to the car.

Mom and baby to the rescue: we pick up PiC from the nearby transit stop, and we make a quick stop at the pharmacy for my meds before getting back home.Usually I have them mailed but the pharmacy screwed up this refill.

Snack time part two commences with a bun and a pinch bowl of raisins. These are perfect for letting hir feed hirself: small enough to fit infant-appropriate serving size snacks, the bowls are sturdy and flexible, ze thinks they’re toys as much as food vehicles. Ze upends the bowl, wears it as a hat, chews on the side thoughtfully.

It’s been 3 hours since Nap 1, so I prep another bottle for hir and peel my shoes out of hir hands again. Someday, this child will stop trying to lick my shoes. Until then …. I cuddle hir on my lap with a bottle. Usually ze lays on the ground snuggled into hir Boppy but today I’m too tired to pick hir up again so lap it is. NOPE, ze struggles back up. I push hir back and offer the bottle again. Well, ok. Ze drinks, pops the bottle out to show me hir progress halfway through, squirts hirself in the face with milk, and finally finishes.

Off to bed. There are some protests. There may be some bar rattling. But once I’ve initiated naptime procedures, I don’t look back. That ze knows of, anyway. *glances at the monitor*

2:11 pm: Silence. Ze has passed out. I might, too. But no, I have work to do. I could eat but am dragging-tired so peel a couple of clementines and dive back into work.

Ze sleeps two whole hours, waking in time to go on a walk with Seamus. As he chows down on early dinner, LB and I work on snacks. I cut up bananas and ze shakes up the yogurt cup. We have fruit, yogurt and some toast. Ze makes a complete mess of drinking milk from a sippy cup, again, so I mop up the milk spattered floor while ze pulls out the Legos for another pass at “building”. This means clapping them together and putting them back in the box, waving a special one at me every so often.

Hir patience seems unusually good for being under the weather so I take advantage of the free hands to prep dinner. He never expects it but the night feels like it goes so much more smoothly if dinner is ready just as PiC’s getting home. Most LB & me nights, that doesn’t happen, but ze is hanging out and entertaining hirself with the Legos so the stove and oven are fired up.

PiC rolls in a bit after 6, some surprise thing held him up, but we’re still on track for a quick dinner and put LB to bed by 7:30. Excellent! I hide in the bathroom to decompress for about 20 minutes, and then get back to work. Meanwhile, PiC puts together LB’s lunch for the next day. I usually do that but he’s got it today.

My concentration is excellent the first three hours, then call it an early night closing in on midnight. My aches are getting the better of me and I’ve cleared the day’s work, go go efficiency! It’s best to lay my broken body down for actual rest.

What did I learn?

Being flexible is the only way to survive combo days. If I try to stick to a rigid schedule like I might set for a daycare day, my focus is fractured and I do nothing well. Being present in the moment means ze and I are fully engaged when ze needs me, and then I’m fully engaged with my work when I’m working.

PiC handles all the out of the house chores like dealing with all the auto chores, picking up milk or medication, or dropping off packages. This leaves me free to use my energy where it’s most needed. Don’t get me wrong, he does plenty around the house, too, but that’s for another post.

I used to think we should hire out some of the work at home but honestly as we settle into routines, it doesn’t feel like we need to anymore. Which is good because as it happens, there’s not much extra room in the budget anyway.

We had a long discussion recently about our routine, it gets a bit flabby when it seems like you’re doing the same things over and over, but you’re really slipping into chaos bit by bit.

We’re committing to an 11 pm bedtime and to carving out specific hours on the weekend for my work. Unrelated? Not at all. We rely on each other heavily but if we’re both sleep deprived, then we’re no good to each other. So, more sleep. And more dedicated time on the weekend to engage with my work because sometimes I just need more hours on that front.

:: How set is your daily routine? Do you prefer a set schedule or taking it as it goes?

Read Part 1 & Part 3!

March 30, 2016

24 hours, Part 1: dog walks, work, and splatitude

24 hours, Part 1: childcare, working with dog, a growing babyI’d been wondering something in my quiet moments. Why I haven’t started that business yet, or finished a creative project? Surely I’ve not gotten lazy and complacent?

It’s possible but it doesn’t seem likely.

Despite knowing that I’m awfully tired from constantly being on the go, oh and also you know, health, it’s hard to fight the sneaking suspicion that my lack of greater achievement’s down to a personal failing.

To get to the truth, I decided to Time Study myself. What do I do all day? Where can I make improvements?

Between two full jobs, a full toddler, Seamus, and the odd hobby or two, there is no such thing as a typical day.

Our days fit in three categories: both of us are home and I have work, I’m home with LB and have work, I have work and no LB.

So let’s dive right in!

A day where I work without the baby around

PiC gets to sleep in until 6:20 am, could lay abed even later if he wanted because LB doesn’t stir until 6:30 but he likes to get started ahead of hir.

It’s 7:47 before I hear it. The door creaks open and a cackle floats in. It’s time for my morning kiss and goodbye, it’s a Daddy and LB day, which also means it’s a Mom and Seamus day.

I sit up. “Can I have a kiss?” Obligingly LB leans in and suckerfishes to my cheek. Little lick, little nibble. Baby kiss!

“Can I have one more?”

Ze convulses in a silent laugh, then twists upside down and sideways out of PiC’s arms to dangle over me, expectant.

I catch hir blithely trusting form and ze grins. One last kiss for the family and they’re off. Seamus and I look at each other, and flop back in bed for another ten minutes of cozy peace.

Sooner than I’d like, I crawl out of bed. It’s time for Seamus’s morning routine.

Checking email on my phone for emergencies, I brush my teeth and get dressed. The favorite part of my telecommuting schedule is usually living in my pajamas but somehow getting dressed in the morning feels more efficient than waiting til we have to go outside later.

Within 15 minutes of waking, Seamus has his medication and we’re headed outside. This used to be a quick dash to take care of business while I distractedly checked email on my phone.  Thanks to a reminder of OHIO, I’ve adopted a firm stance about time wasted on rereading emails, so this is now our time to contemplate and appreciate nature in companionable silence. We move slowly at first in the morning chill, watching the last bits of fog lace through the tree branches, letting our old joints warm up.

By the time we find our stride, it’s time to mosey on back. Our morning jaunts take 25 minutes, and then Seamus prances at the door, anticipating breakfast. I get him started, start a load of whites in the wash, get a glass of water, find my glasses, and settle in to work.

Thirty seven emails and 4 hours later, it’s time to hydrate and grab a mini chocolate bar from the fridge. As an afterthought, and a placatory gesture to the adult somewhere in me, I also take the yogurt cup with me. Funny how when you set the yogurt and candy on the desk together, I end up eating the yogurt first. Don’t get me wrong, the candy disappears an hour later, too.

Think about eating a real meal. Keep working.

Early afternoon brings a quick flurry of activity: put clothes in the dryer, wash the dishes, prep the veggies for tonight’s dinner, open, recycle, and shred mail. Put together the week’s to do packet for bills. Then, back at the computer for three more hours.

Seamus dines early these days, but he always starts the dinner dance 30 minutes before just in case I can be wheedled. Most of the afternoon is dog-naps, but his internal clock is something to behold as his perked ears bob up behind my computer screen five minutes before I intend to take a break. Dinner for him is the work of a few minutes, then I’m back into the computer glare for another hour.

By 5 pm, a break would be welcome, as would be dinner, so I head into the kitchen to throw something together. Starch, veggie, protein!

Put the pot pie in the oven and sit back down to quickly draft about two-thirds of a blog post from that scrap of an idea that bubbled up with the pot pie fixings. 30 minutes later, the oven is cozy just in time for LB and PiC to get home, exclaiming about the buttery pastry scents wafting out the door.

LB hands me the contents of the daycare bag, one by one, and I quickly wash up hir bottles and lunch boxes.

LB’s still unbelievably upbeat after a long day with hardly a nap, so ze cackles hir way through deconstructed pot pie, and then experiments with gravity. Hey look! The chicken will SPLAT just like the carrot did, and so does the green bean! That’s hilarious! *cackles*

We know it’s a necessary phase but child, stop that!

We bundle The Messy One off to hit the showers once the play time turns to boredom and most of the food now gets rubbed in hir hair. A bottle of milk warms during shower time, and the non-bathing parent clears up the dinner mess.

By 8:20, ze’s creaking and chirping from bed, falling asleep, and I get a shower! I wryly think back to the early days of newborn life when a shower was a complete luxury and give myself a full 10 minutes before it’s back to work while PiC does post-dinner washing up.

My concentration starts to waver around 10:30 and I realize that the last ten minutes were lost to mindless oblivion. It’s time to call it, so I check everything one last time to make sure I hit my deadlines and head to the kitchen.

Usually packing LB’s lunch is still amusing: ze eats everything so I just compose a sort of balanced collection of snacks in bite sizes and that’s set. (Yes, I’m easily amused.) I’m the most underachieving bento box packing mom ever and I’m only that because it totally entertains me. If I could justify it, ze would be carrying hir own R2-D2 to daycare. Heck, if I had to pack a lunch that sucker would be MINE. PiC is in charge of the bottles and labeling everything according to daycare procedure.

Oh and Seamus needs his meds so I check on the supply and make a mental note. Second half of the month is always time to figure out if we need more medications or pill pockets, or basically anything on Amazon’s Subscribe & Save. I’m aiming for that 15% off, if we get a delivery.

The kitchen’s cleared up, lunch is packed, and we’ve made it through another day. I deserve bed and a book. If only sleep came to adults as easily as it does to the dog whose been snoring for the past 2 hours! These hours of the night are the most wasteful part of my 24 hours: I have to read to relax enough to sleep. There are days, though, sleep eludes me til past 2 am.

Yesterday, I worked til 2 am so at least trying to sleep is an improvement for this hour of the night.

What did I learn?

As much as I love seeeing LB’s face all day, when it comes to working, daycare is a blessing. I get so much done when it’s just me. I have so energy left at the end of the day to snuggle hir and do bedtime routines. If only daycare wasn’t a petri dish but that immune system needs to be built sometime and early is better than later.

Daycare has made a huge difference in our ability to get things done and not be exhausted every second of every day. It’s been absolutely critical in letting us both have our alone time professionally, and therefore have the energy to give each other personal time.

I’m not a morning person but sometimes my pain drives an extra early morning whether I intended to or not. This means that it’s not always a good idea to insist on getting everything done the night before. For the first time, I’m becoming  relaxed about doing as much as I can, when I can, and trusting that the rest will get done in its own time.

:: What morning routines work best for you? Are you decidedly at your best at any particular time of day or day of week?

Read Part 2 & Part 3!

January 13, 2016

Q4 (October through December) 2015: a quarterly look back

So how did I do with my Q4 plans?

Professional:

Evaluate status of the writing project – edit and rewrite.
Reschedule for 2016, Q1.

Ask a mentor or two to critique it, again.
One mentor agreed to read it, once I have a draft.

Blog at least 3x/week.
Almost. This blasted unending additional plague kept me from anything more than just survival for a while. I’m getting back up to speed.

Personal:

Host family for Thanksgiving.
Did it! I made way too much food but it was fun and relaxing. Next time, I’m copying Cloud‘s menu day-scheduling, though 🙂

Perhaps vacation for a week out of state – scheduling pending.
Not this quarter but definitely in 2016. It’s on the calendar and in our (free version) TripIt app!

Add 30 minutes at the gym 1x/week.
Not this quarter. Being sick for 6-8 weeks really did this quarter in.

How are you doing?

November 23, 2015

Grey’s Anatomy on careers, negotiating, and the patriarchy

Bailey

This is what a feminist looks like, sir.

Spoiler alert: If you watch Grey’s Anatomy and haven’t watched recent seasons, and care about spoilers, don’t watch this clip. I don’t think the post is specifically spoilery but I’d need an outside opinion on that.

Onward!

I am HUGELY conflicted about this scene. Mind, I don’t watch Grey’s anymore, I used to have it on occasionally for background and it’s too much life drama for me to really get into. Plus I mainly enjoyed it because of Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh. Not the sex in the workplace, part, that weirds me out in a lot of ways, but their hard-driving, take no shit from anyone, I will prevail come hell or high water approach to work? Those were good.

And they weren’t caricatures, they were complex human women and I liked that.

On the one hand, I’m all about Bailey’s professional standards:

YES, you can only mentor someone for so long.
YES, a person must stand on hir own feet to know that ze can.
YES, you can be taught and taught and taught, but only YOU can actually put those lessons to use.
YES, you have to learn to work within the system in order to succeed in it and change it.
YES, part of the system dictates that Miranda has a fiduciary responsibility not to just give money away if it’s not asked for.

On the other hand, I’m not about that system AT ALL:

The system as it stands, where every individual must negotiate and with the internalized bias against women for negotiating, SUCKS.

I say this as someone who has negotiated in every single job she’s taken. I’ve fought for every raise and promotion to be at least close to commensurate to the value I brought. I make a decent salary. But the system SUCKS. The system is riddled with bias and is innately structured to benefit men, who are expected to negotiate, and discriminates against women who are penalized for negotiating.

Hell, according to the first study below, women are already penalized simply for being women at the point of application.

Ilana Yurkiewicz’s post Study shows gender bias in science is real. Here’s why it matters: scientists presented with application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position and who intended to go on to graduate school. Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the “female” applicants were rated significantly lower than the “males” in competence, hireability, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student.

So I’m firmly on the side of “everyone has to learn to stand on their own two feet”, but I’m also intensely uncomfortable with the assumption that women have an equal chance at the same money that men do, “just negotiate!”

It is NOT that simple.

Obviously, from the lower salaries that women were offered to begin with, they’d have to negotiate for a much larger amount just to catch up to what the men would ultimately receive.

And I’m tempted to say that Ellen Pao’s move to cut out negotiating entirely would be a good answer except that I don’t really trust companies to make a good, fair offer at the outset.

Getting back to that scene, my conflict stems from knowing that you have to challenged to get stronger. Sometimes being challenged results in your failure to rise, your failure to see it through, or your failure to even recognize there’s an opportunity to win in the challenge. Simultaneously, I rage at the fact that there are times it simply doesn’t matter how much you rise, or struggle, or fight, you lose because you fought, you lose because you fought as a women, you lose because it’s not “appropriate” to push back as a woman.

I don’t know what the answer is but I know this: there is a startling amount of bias in the current system and it sucks. And it sucks to see someone being admirable in her growth from a mentorship position to an authority position and realize that the line she’s holding for a damn good reason was drawn, and is redrawn every day, by people who never intended to level the playing field.

My feelings are complex on this.

More on this, if you really need the additional data

From the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Who Goes to the Bargaining Table? The Influence of Gender and Framing on the Initiation of Negotiation

From Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Not competent enough to know the difference? Gender stereotypes about women’s ease of being misled predict negotiator deception: “negotiators deceived women more so than men, thus leading women into more deals under false pretenses than men.”

Harvard Business School on How Benevolent Sexism Undermines Women and Justifies Backlash: “Benevolent sexists, more often than not, are also hostile sexists”

October 5, 2015

Q3 (July through September) 2015: a quarterly look back

So how did I do with my Q3 plans?

Professional:

Edit the writing project.
Nope. I still need to commit many many more words to paper before we get to an editing stage, so this project is about six months behind thanks to my other project. (Just kidding … mostly)

Ask a mentor or two to critique it.
Yes, I thought that actually asking someone to have a look at it would force me to write. It doesn’t always work that way.

Blog at least 3x/week.
Yep!

Personal:

Vacation in San Diego.
Sort of! We did do a trip, anyway.

Host a good friend for a week.
Yes! We actually had more than one friend spend time with us and it was glorious.

Keep walking 5 of 7 days per week.
Yes! It wasn’t always a long walk but I’ve gotten myself out and about frequently enough to feel like I’m getting a little wind in my sails.

How are you doing?

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