Saturday, January 31, 2015

Photo Saturday

Yeah, it doesn't have the same alliteration as Photo Friday, but I just couldn't do it last night.  Carter didn't nap yesterday for some reason, and he melted down in the evening while we were out.  We came home with him still screaming, then Jacob flooded the bathroom, and I ended the night on the couch with a bowl of ice cream and a DVR full of shows.  Anyway...

So...I've posted here before how much Carter loves using the bubble mower outside.  Well, we came up with a wintertime solution...
 
Those are Tinkertoys.  Years ago, before we moved, our awesome old neighbors gave me a garbage bag full of toys.  I looked in it a few times over the years, but I'm ashamed to say that I never pulled them out until last weekend.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's the overwhelming amount of toys we have, maybe it was not wanting to deal with Jacob not being old enough to play with the toys without getting frustrated...I don't know.  But I guess with all of this time at home I'm just trying to keep things fresh, so out they came.  Jacob also played with Lincoln Logs at daycare on MLK day, and I felt it was only right to bring them out.  Inside was a set of Tinkertoys, a set of Lincoln Logs, and a building set that uses large plastic nuts and bolts to put things together.  We've had fun with them so far, though we ran into a couple stumbling blocks with broken or missing pieces with some of them.  Still, Jacob got a Lincoln Log lookout tower for his Playmobil guys, and I made Carter a fun truck to push around with the nuts and bolts set.  But when I saw the lawnmower in the guide for the Tinkertoys, I knew Carter would love it!  It's "broken" about 100 times already, but it's been fun watching him.  Those toys have now officially entered the rotation, so perhaps we'll be seeing more of them.
 
On Thursday, I had made plans to have lunch with my weekly lunch buddies (for the last nine years while I was working), and I went to the gym in the city that morning before cleaning up and heading over to eat.  After lunch I took a little detour, despite the cold, and wandered a couple blocks over to the Eastman School of Music.  I knew that in one of their buildings there was an atrium that contained a Chihuly chandelier, and I'd never seen it up close.  I figured out where I needed to go and walked there.  I felt a little funny wandering in and gawking at it for five minutes, but it was worth it!




 
It was so beautiful, as are all of his pieces, but it's cool to know this one is so close.  And all it took was a little walk in the city to see it!
 
Friday night Craig had scheduled a photo shoot with a few of the lacrosse players with some puppies up for adoption.  We headed over to the hotel to see them before the shoot.  The puppies were so stinking adorable.

The two on the left are sisters.

Hard to tell from these pictures, but they're pretty small.
I was a little bummed to find out that they were all pitbulls.  I know, I know...not all pitbulls are mean and if they're raised right they're fine, but it scares me that the breed is generally known to be capable of terrible things.  Still, I fell in love with this little one...
Say hi to Eve <3 em="">
She was so sweet, so adorable...I just loved her right away.  Of course, I know better.  We cannot have a dog.  We are rarely home (well, normally), we have a house full of off-white carpeting and chewable toys, and cleaning up after two kids is plenty.  But oh, she was so cute.

The sad little wrinkles on her face were too much!
Of course, I spent most of the evening chasing Carter around.  He kept trying to run into the photography shoot, and at one point he ended up on the floor like this...
Notice his short, big boy haircut!
 And then he was up against the wall like this....

And most of the time he just looked like this...

As I mentioned, he didn't nap yesterday (just sat in his crib for two hours, making noise, crying once in a while for attention, and definitely NOT sleeping), and I knew that a meltdown could be imminent.  He had a little snack and when there wasn't anymore, he started screaming.  He proceeded to scream through all of us getting our coats on, carting him through the lobby, getting him in the car, and for most of the drive home.  Then, once he was ready for bed and the bathroom flooding episode had stabilized a bit, he freaked out because I wouldn't let him take his sippy cup of water into bed with him.  A little more screaming after that and he quieted rather quickly.  The bathroom flooding got resolved after that, the result of a plugged toilet earlier in the day.  I never got it unplugged earlier as the water level didn't get low enough and we had to leave, and before I could remember, Jacob had peed and flushed.  He tried to "fix" the toilet with a second flush as the first one was already about to overflow the bowl.  Sigh.  Not a good night.

But fun pictures, no?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Evening Up

Lately Jacob's been a little annoyed that Carter gets to stay home with me three days a week.  I can't blame him, I suppose, but obviously there are a lot of other factors at play.  The law says Jacob must go to school.  Financial sense dictates that it doesn't make sense to spend money on five days of daycare when I'm home.  And, of course, the bonus time with Carter isn't half bad either.

Sometimes it does seem unfair that Carter gets this time with me, while Jacob has always spent his days somewhere else.  However, even though he may not have been home with me on weekdays, we had countless weekends and weeknights when Craig was working and we got significant one-on-one time together.  So, the more I think about it, maybe this is a bit of an equalizer.  I reminded Jacob the other day that he had mommy and daddy to himself for over four years, and Carter won't have us to himself until he's at least 13...and by then he probably won't want us around at all!  So this time alone with me is Carter's version of those one-on-one days and nights that Jacob and I had.  We spend most of our weekends right now as a threesome, and that's great, but there's nothing quite like dedicated, solo time with a parent.

The time Carter and I actually have together is more limited than you'd think.  Once Jacob and Craig are off in the morning, it takes some time to get both of us dressed and ready for the day.  We play for a little bit, and suddenly it's around noon and time for lunch.  After lunch he goes down for a nap, and lately he's been taking three hour (!) naps, so suddenly it's late afternoon and we have a little playtime before it's time to get Jacob from school and start working on dinner.  Because I have more time during the day it usually means I'm a little more participatory in the evening playtime before bed, but the total amount of quality time is still less than you'd think.  And if you add in errands to that, it's even more disjointed. 

Still, errands can be fun.  I remember thinking the best kind of days off as a kid were ones where we had plans...like when my mom still bowled on Monday mornings and we'd go to the bowling alley and then go out to lunch (Showbiz Pizza when I was little, and Pizza Hut for personal pans later).  Heck, I even liked going grocery shopping, and I hope Carter likes the running around too.  Most of the time he's pretty good, so I think he's at least entertained.  A couple times I've debated doing something special--getting a treat or going out to lunch--but I've held back.  It feels like "cheating on" Jacob a bit or something.  It would be nice to get my gluten-filled-food fix, though.  And like I said above, Jacob and I had plenty of special treat moments over his first four years, so I feel like maybe Carter is due a few of those moments himself while we have the chance.

It still feels a little funny, but I think ultimately this is a special time we need to embrace.  How that plays out and how long it lasts, I don't really know, but I do know I should lay off the self-guilt, at least a bit, and try to enjoy it.  My baby isn't going to be a baby for long, and I'm trying to soak up every moment...and if that involves watching him eat a contraband Tim Hortons donut for the first time, so be it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Looking Back...

It's been a little funny for me to be out of work at this time of year.  Clearly I'd have preferred all of this to happen during nicer weather, when I could spend my free time outside, save daycare money for both kids, and fill my days with fun outdoor activities.  I also wish it was a little later in the year so I could attempt some hardcore potty training with Carter, who is clearly not ready yet but might be by the summer.  But being off in the middle of winter has its perks, too.  I feel like I had some accidental training for this, actually.  Considering all of the sick days I've had to take over the last couple months and the week off I had at Christmas, the last couple weeks practically seem like a continuation of that.  But what's really been popping into my head lately is my maternity leave.

I was scared to death of having a winter maternity leave.  I thought I'd get a serious case of cabin fever, and I thought I'd feel trapped and even more deprived of human contact than I did during my first maternity leave right at the beginning of summer.  But instead, my winter maternity leave was one of the most blissful periods in recent memory, even though Jacob was a handful at the time and the last couple weeks were hard because Carter's reflux and milk sensitivity were making themselves known.  But I loved that time at home.  I loved cuddling my baby, watching crappy TV, avoiding crappy snowy commutes, and having a little more time at home to get things done.  I liked not feeling any pressure to go anywhere.  We just holed up in the house and snuggled.  Was it perfect?  No, but there was just something so lovely about it that I really didn't want to go back to work.  That was definitely a switch from my first maternity leave, so something was different.  Clearly I became a wiser parent in the interim, if nothing else!

Being home during the heart of winter has been strangely familiar over these last couple weeks.  The timing of this break is a full month earlier than my maternity leave, but the feel is very similar.  Cold weather, plenty to keep me busy, the company of a tiny little human...all very familiar.  Even my time alone is reminiscent, since there were moments when newborn Carter slept that I got to do my own thing.

All of this has definitely had me thinking back to two years ago.  In fact, the posts from this specific week were pretty crazy to look back on.  I was really getting into the thick of the pain and pressure that made the last few weeks of my pregnancy so difficult.  I was panicky and uncomfortable and pretty much afraid to do much of anything.  I was constantly afraid my water was going to break because the pressure was so intense, and even a simple trip to the grocery store left me miserable on the couch for the evening.  It was such a switch from my first pregnancy, and I simply didn't know what to do about it.  Re-reading those posts last night reminded me of the shock and fear that crept in as things got worse, and looking back it's a miracle I got so much done before Carter actually arrived.  I know I felt like I had to push through to keep my sanity and get things done, but considering how I was convinced that every day could be my last chance, it's no wonder I was losing my mind by the end.  Last weekend at Jacob's lacrosse game I looked down the way at the bleachers I sat on every Thursday for the last six weeks of my pregnancy, including the night before Carter was born.  I thought about those long days of work followed by Jacob's soccer clinic, and marveled that I got through it.  That last day was SO hard.  I felt horrible and even our family Valentine's Day dinner was a bust.  Gosh, what a crazy time that was.  Adding to the irony is that my maternity leave was such a burden on my two department mates, and now that's their full-time existence.  Sigh.

I have settled into this existence a little more easily than I expected, which is both good and scary.  I don't want to get too comfortable, but I'm glad I'm not just sitting here bemoaning my fate (yet).  I fill my days, enjoy my time with Carter, and try to be productive.  Today I reorganized my basement storage shelf, which has been on my list for months.  I also finished washing and sorting the 2T clothes, but I have yet to figure out how to fit them in Carter's room.  I'm just trying to plan ahead a little more, manage our schedules a little better, and keep myself occupied.  Tomorrow I am working out, having lunch (possibly my last, since my free parking is ending) with my two weekly lunch buddies, and hopefully starting a big project if I can push myself.  It's enough that I sometimes wonder how I managed to do all I did when eight of these hours were spent at work.  I'll have to readjust at some point, but for now I'll hunker down, enjoy this time, and appreciate that this makes the doldrums of winter just a little easier to take!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Best Part

I know that being unemployed is a pretty lousy circumstance, but like I've been saying, I'm trying to keep a positive attitude...at least while I can, before the real stress of applications and interviews begins.  That should be soon, by the way.  My resume is pretty much done and that's when it gets real.

In the meantime, there are many things to enjoy.  Bonus time with Carter, in particular, is nice.  He's at a hilarious age right now, and I love hearing him try new words and come out with a few phrases here and there.  Of course, he's also getting into the terrible twos and is prone to tantrums and turning to jello at a moment's notice, so dealing with a little more of that isn't always easy.  I enjoy the opportunity to catch up on my favorite 80s TV shows (most days it's game shows on GSN and today it was The Cosby Show) and keep my DVR clear, but that can get old after a while.  I've been able to take up reading again, but the moments to do that still seem to be few and far between.  I can keep my house a little cleaner, but that's not really very fun and I feel like I've already picked up the same toys a thousand times in the past two weeks.

So what is my favorite part?  Seems silly, but my favorite part is not being rushed.  Don't get me wrong, I still have a schedule.  I have to get out of bed and get Jacob's lunch ready before he leaves, and I still have to pick him up from school and manage appointments and schedules.  But there's a certain luxury to being able to schedule my own time within those limitations.  Overall it just makes me a less stressed human being.  I can shop during the day, rather than cramming it into the commute home.  I'm not trying to run errands like a maniac all weekend or in the evenings.  Having time to get it out of the way during the week makes me a less crazy person during the times that used to be my only chance. 

I know this seems like sort of a little thing in the grand scheme of things, but it's hard to explain how it changes your entire outlook on things.  Before, it was easy to push things off and say that I simply didn't have the time.  Now, I often can take care of things right then and there, or I can put it on my mental list to get it done soon, and know that I have the time to actually do it.  I'm trying to remind myself every day how lucky I am to have this time (regardless of the reason) and how annoyed with myself I would be if I didn't get things done on my to do list before I get back to work.  I have curtains that need to be hung in two rooms, for example.  I have a smoke detector that needs to be installed.  I have organization projects that I'd like to get around to.  I want to get back in shape.  I need to schedule a physical and get a new doctor.  I want to grab lunch with Craig once in a while.  Hopefully I can get them done, but it's nice to know it's even a possibility. 

I just like that I'm not spending every spare moment trying to cram things in, and rushing myself and everyone else all the time.  I guess you could just characterize it as breathing room.  Instead of feeling completely crushed by my schedule, I have wiggle room and options.  It's refreshing.  I'd like to think it makes me a better mom who can live in the moment a little more easily, but I'm definitely still working on that.  Just because I have more time doesn't mean that dinner still doesn't need to get on the table by a certain time, and having a kid attached to my leg makes that difficult...and Carter doesn't always like that.  I still need to be the heavy and get Jacob off the Wii sometimes, and he doesn't always like that.  But I am trying to take the time to play with the kids more and not rush them through everything.  I'm still not great at remembering to get into Jacob's backpack or clear out the diaper pail, but the odds of it happening sooner than it would have previously are definitely higher! 

I'm definitely still finding my way through this stay-at-home mom experience.  It's not the way I wanted to do it and I never dreamed I'd even have this opportunity, so it's a bit of a mental adjustment to realize all that I can do with it.  I know there's a lot of work ahead of me, but in the meantime I will enjoy the perks...at my leisure, of course ;-)

Friday, January 23, 2015

News & Notes, Unemployment Edition

So...we're 10 days into this alternate reality that we never imagined would be our real life.  Yesterday I met most of the day with a job coach who worked with me to go over my resume, update my LinkedIn, and prepare me for interviews.  It was mostly fun and I got a nice lunch out of it, but it was a little sobering, as well, because there's a lot of competition out there and interviewing is really one of my worst nightmares.  A necessary evil, for sure, but terrifying for me.  First impressions are just plain scary.  Still, the preparation was good and I've made progress.  The only bad news is that my resume is caught up with them right now, partly because the poor coach was still dealing with the lingering cough from bronchitis a few weeks back and ended up going for some treatment last night.  I'm stuck until I get that, but hopefully Monday.

I realized I'm a bit behind on pictures.  I'm actually pulling in a lot of pictures from my iPod today, probably because I use it more now that I'm home all day and can capture random moments.

Last Thursday Jacob and I went on a little "date" to a musical put on by a middle school in town.  We got discounted tickets to the dress rehearsal through Jacob's school, and we had a great time.  The show was Beauty and the Beast, and it was awesome.  From the sets to the costumes, everything looked great, and the actors were fantastic.  It was a little funny to see the range of kids at that age--the kids who haven't quite hit puberty full on yet compared to the kids who passed it a long time ago.  But the show was wonderful and aside from being a little too eager for snacks at the intermission, Jacob really seemed to enjoy it. 

Before the show...notice the lighted logo on the wall behind him...
Mama-Jacob selfie...one of my favorites ever.
I took this picture the other morning when I noticed the frost on the branches lit up so perfectly by the rising sun.  Not bad considering it's through the window and zoomed.

Yesterday evening daycare put on a belated holiday show.  Usually they do a Christmas one in December, but for some reason they did a mostly Christmas one in January.  I'm not sure if they put it off due to staffing issues or too much illness or what.  It was strange, but oh, well.  I wasn't even sure until that morning that Carter was participating, so he wasn't dressed up cute or anything.  In addition, Jacob jumped in with the school agers at the last minute...so it was all sorts of hodgepodge.
Carter sat like a statue, pretty much like this, the whole time his group sang.  To be fair, he's one of the youngest ones, but I was a little bummed that he didn't even do the motions for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, since he's usually so good at it.  Oh, well...next year.

Jacob enjoyed himself...though nothing will compare to the year he stole the microphone.
 
The other day I poked my head into Carter's room during nap and discovered this interesting position:
It's hard to really see how high his leg is.  He just looked so funny.

The other day I looked out the front window while walking down the stairs and thought I saw something.  At first I thought it was a dog but quickly realized it was a deer.  I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple shots out the front window.  This one snacked on our evergreens, and as he walked I noticed another deer on the side of the house.  We don't see deer a lot, but they're definitely around.


I captured this shot of Carter watching Jacob play Wii.  What a big boy he's becoming.
 
I went upstairs to put away laundry for a couple minutes and came down to this...
He's at my spot at the table, complete with his play food.
What a character he's becoming.  As exhausting as he can be, this is a great time to be home with him.  He's hilarious.

So, we're just plugging along right now.  Things are fine and our new normal isn't half bad for the time being...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Life at Home

I've been doing the "at home" thing for just over a week now.  Carter goes to daycare twice a week, and spends the rest of the time with me.  I can tell he misses it, but I'm glad he gets a couple days to maintain some sense of normalcy.  So far, it's been fine...different, but fine.  Clearly this is not the way I'd want to spend time at home, and right now there's a false sense of stability since I'm technically pulling in a normal paycheck without having to do the work.  But one of my main goals for this time was to make the best of it.  So that's what I'm trying to do.

Being out of work stinks and I'm sort of dreading the process of finding a new job.  I always just find it intimidating to look at job descriptions and I worry about either overselling myself and not being able to do it, or being too humble and missing a prime opportunity to show what I'm capable of.  At the end of the day I know that I'm intelligent and am capable of learning a lot.  I taught myself so much of what I did in my old job, and I'm confident I can do it again.  But I always get nervous about getting in over my head.  I liken things like this to the first day of class in college, when you see the syllabus and freak out about all you'll have to do.  The thing is, though, that you don't have to do it all in one day, or even one week.  And I think getting a new job is along those lines too, but I still dread those first couple weeks of not knowing what I'm doing and trying to learn without looking like an idiot.  I always felt bad for new people at my old job, particularly when I'd ask them how they were settling in and I'd get a response like, "Oh, it's going okay, I'm getting there," and remembering that early awkwardness. I'm not looking forward to that part, but it is exciting to think of new opportunities. 

I have a couple leads, but I can't really get started until at least tomorrow.  I have a resume done, but I have no idea if it meets current resume standards.  I don't know what of my college stuff still needs to be there--awards, honors, internships--or how much detail I really need to provide for previous positions.  Sometimes there are entire resume sections that go out of vogue, so I need to find out how mine stacks up to current trends.  I will be spending most of the day tomorrow with a job coach that was provided by my old company.  Ironically it's in the building next door to my old one (good news: I can use my parking), and I'm guessing we'll be working on my resume, going over my evaluation I filled out to pinpoint jobs/industries to focus on, and hopefully working on interview questions and answers.  They're buying me lunch, if nothing else, so I guess that's nice.  I'm just hoping to have a good resume ready by the end of the day, so I can start applying to jobs via one lead, and reconnecting with the same headhunter that I worked with nine years ago.  If none of those pan I out I will have to start digging deeper, but I think those are two good places to start.  Having a resume ready is a big help, though, as smaller leads pop up. 

In the meantime I'm doing what I can to enjoy the break.  Extra time with Carter is nice, even if I'm already tired of cleaning up the living room five times a day.  He's a pretty good little buddy and a good sport when we have to run errands.  I still look forward to naptime, but knowing that I have a lot of time on my hands over the next few weeks, I'm less panicked when he wakes up from nap than I usually am on weekends when those few hours are needed to get things done.  I'm trying to be more diligent around the house--doing more laundry, taking the time to clean things I normally don't, trying to plan meals better--and I've been handling most of the pick-up duties at the end of the day so Craig can maximize his time at work.  I really am trying to utilize this as a "try-out" in the event I ever have the chance to work part-time or something like that.

It definitely has its bright side--time with Carter, time to read a book, time to watch my favorite old 80s game shows on GSN in the morning, time to run errands when most of the world is working--but it's not all fun and games, either.  I still need to get up early to get Jacob's lunch packed everyday and get Carter ready on time to leave with Craig twice per week.  I have to worry about getting a job and taking care of anything associated with that.  There's more pressure now to ensure that I am available for all of the stuff I have no excuse to not do anymore.  I'm committing myself to going to the gym on the two days that Carter is at daycare.  Unfortunately my old gym closed and my new gym is not open in our town just yet, so I'm stuck going downtown to the gym I have a free membership at through Craig's work.  I like it there a lot, but it's a bit more of a drive than I'd like.  Yesterday it worked out well because I met my weekly lunch buddies for lunch afterward, and tomorrow I'll go after my job coaching.  I figure that if I can use this time to drop the extra five pounds I'm toting around, that would be helpful. 

It's still weird not having anywhere to go, but I'm keeping myself busy enough that it still feels a bit like a staycation or holiday time off.  It's a little ironic that the last time I had this much time off it was two years ago right around this same time of year (though one month later), for maternity leave.  I grew to love that time all holed up at home, but having a tiny baby made it easier to want to stay home, whereas now a break from the living room disaster area is welcomed.  I can't go out and spend money, however, but there are certain things I'm taking the time to look for (a new toaster oven to replace ours that doesn't toast or new dressy work clothes).  I've had a bunch of lunches out for various reasons, too, and I need to make a couple doctor's appointments before our insurance changes over. 

Long story short, this isn't quite some relaxing vacation, but it's a nice vacation from having to cram everything outside of work into a couple hours per night.  I'll get a little more crazy in another couple weeks, but for now I'm enjoying the chance to see what this kind of existence would be like, minus the financial hit.  The real work starts tomorrow, though...so we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Game Plan

Well, now that I've officially been out of work for nearly five days, I've had some time to ponder this monumental shift in my existence.  You don't realize how integral to your identity your job can be, and having to reset my plans and expectations accordingly has been a challenge.  Everywhere I look there are reminders of how things were before.  From the frozen dinners stocked up in my freezer for work lunches to the clothes I had planned to wear to work later in the week, there were so many little things to remind me of what had happened.  On Thursday I stopped into my old building to grab lunch with my usual Friday lunch buddies (two guys I worked game nights with when I worked in sports--one works in the same building and the other a couple blocks away).  It hit me as I walked back from lunch and looked at the building that it's no longer "my" building.  I can no longer look at it with pride and talk about the great views.  In fact, losing those views was a sad realization for me, particularly as we finally had some spectacular sunsets this week after an otherwise blah winter sunset season.  I even had to scramble a little when I realized that my annual MLK Day lunch with some former sports co-workers was in jeopardy once I was out of work.  With Jacob off school and unable to eat at the restaurant we always go to, I almost wasn't able to go.  But I had promised to try to get him into daycare that day since he missed out on part of his time there over Christmas, and even though Carter won't be there (more on that in a minute) on Monday and I'm clearly available, he'll be at daycare.  That may be all he gets for a while, so I guess it's the least I can do.

It's just been a weird mental thing in general, realizing that all of the skills that I took such great pride in, all of the work I put my heart and soul into, all of the little victories I had right up until my last day...all mean nothing now.  As I mentioned, no one else knows how to do most of my work, so many of the projects and processes I worked countless hours on are now worthless.  It's sad, really.  Not that it impacts me anymore, but it sort of makes you wonder why you bothered all that time.  It definitely makes me realize how much more important family is than work.  Sometimes they seem like they have to be equal...you know, like when you have a major deadline and a sick kid and feel like it's OK for your kid to hang out with someone else but your project really needs you.  But at the end of the day your family is always going to be there waiting for you, whereas your job...well, maybe it won't be.  It's hard to have that perspective in the middle of it, but that is quite clear to me right now.

Speaking of family, we've decided that we're going to pull Carter out of daycare three days per week.  I figure that keeping him in for two days still saves us a lot of money but still keeps him in that groove to some degree.  We'll get some bonus time together, but I will still have set days where I can get things done, be it interviews or other appointments.  I'm leaving Jacob in the afterschool program for now, mostly because he's already paid through the month and it's a pain to set up bus service or pick him up at a specific time.  We could stop it for next month, but what if I get a job that starts in February?  Then we're stuck.  So I think he'll be sticking around.  It's not that expensive in the grand scheme of things, so it's worth the security for the next couple months of unknowns. 

As for the job hunt, I'm still working on my resume.  Initially I was having some computer formatting issues with my old resume and then I realized that I'm simply not sure what belongs in a "modern" resume.  It's been nearly 10 years since I had to update mine, and I know trends change.  I could update what's there and add my most recent job, but I'm really not sure if certain things still need to be there (college awards, internships), how much detail I need for jobs, and whether the current setup is sufficient.  I had to fill out a massive evaluation for the transitional job coach that I have the services of for a month (courtesy of my former employer), and it was pretty awful to have to regurgitate two jobs' worth of tasks, skills, and accomplishments in the immediate wake of this loss.  On Thursday I will spend the entire day meeting with the job coach, ironically in the building next door to my old one (at least I can use my parking pass!), hopefully to finalize the resume, work on talking points, and get a game plan.  I have a couple good leads through friends of mine and a couple other plans in mind (including the headhunter I used to get my last job), so I don't feel too worried yet.  If a couple of those don't plan out I might get a bit more panicky, but for now I'm keeping calm and taking things one step at a time. 

In the meantime, I'm making plans to rock my stay-at-home mom stint.  I've always dreamed of working part time and having at least a couple days at home each week, so I'm trying to look at this as my trial run.  Not that I could ever make it work financially, but I'm intrigued to see how it would go.  Of course, there's always the fear that I will totally suck at it.  I've already spent far too much time on the couch when I should be playing with the kids, but to be fair I think I'm getting a bit of a cold, judging by the runny nose and scratchy throat I'm dealing with right now.  But I am trying to be more engaged and intentional, and I'm making an effort to clean things that have been waiting and planning to work through my long-term to do list.  I have curtains to hang and a baby book to update, and if I don't get to those things now, I might never.  I don't want to get back to work and kick myself for not getting those things out of the way while I had this unprecedented amount of time off.  I need to get in a couple workouts each week and I need to finally get in to see a new doctor.  I have piles of magazines to read and 2T clothes to start integrating into Carter's wardrobe.  I went to the library and checked out a book so I have something constructive to do when I've had too much crappy TV.  I need to look up story hour times and find activities to get Carter and me out of the house once in a while.  I need to be more intentional about teaching him things I think he'd be learning at daycare.

It's still a lot to process, and I can't do it all in one day, but I'm trying to stay positive and take advantage of this opportunity while I have it.  It's not every day that you get the chance to improve your place in life and enjoy some time off work in the process.  We'll just have to see how it goes...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Detour

Tuesday morning started out like any other day.  Well, that's not entirely true...in the middle of my morning routine I read my friends' CaringBridge post that their cancer-stricken daughter had declined considerably and might be in the last stages.  That was jarring, but the good news is, three days later she's still hanging in there, and the bonus time has allowed them to add some good memories to their collection.  But otherwise, it was a normal morning.  I went to work, settled in at my desk, ate breakfast, and started digging into my computer.  A couple minutes later, I was surprised to see my big boss peeking around the cubicle wall.  He doesn't come into town much, so it was interesting that he was there.  He very quickly asked me to come with him.  He wasn't very chatty on the walk across the office, and right about that moment I figured out what was happening.  I couldn't quite believe it, but it became extra clear upon arrival in the conference room.  I sat in calm disbelief as it was explained that my position was being eliminated and as of that day, it was done.  DONE.  As in, no more job.  Nine years, and it all ended in an instant. 

I tried to keep calm and rational, but inside I sort of wanted to exclaim to them that they were out of their minds, for reasons I'll explain later.  I had to sit through a few minutes with the HR person, then get passed along to a transitional job coach for a half hour to hear their game plan for helping me through this process.  And then it was time to be escorted to my desk, so they could watch me pack up nine years' worth of stuff and prevent me from touching my computer.  I had a few minutes to say goodbye to my department mates, and that was it.  They were devastated, not just because we were a great team, but because we were overwhelmed as it was with three of us, and most of what I did they don't know how to do.  It was just sudden and awful and as perplexing as it was shocking. 

I was home before 11am, with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  So, of course, I jumped on Facebook, despite the fact that all of the paperwork from the transition folks urges you not to do that.  But this is real life and I'm not about to keep this one to myself, not when the rest of my life is so out there.  Easier to get it over with than to systematically have to run into people and have them awkwardly, unknowingly embarrass themselves when they say something and I have to break the news.  I'm not going to say anything I might regret anyway.  Of course I got an outpouring of support in the comments and plenty of private messages, many with possible leads and offers of help.  It was nice to get those on an otherwise crappy day.  I found out later that morning that three of my office mates had been let go as well, all with as much or more time with the company, so after that I felt less bad about my situation, at least. 

Still, this has clearly been a jarring, surreal experience.  I never in a million years expected to be here.  I don't say that arrogantly, I say that as a person who was the only one doing what I was doing, and someone doing a lot of work that is requested directly by clients and the people working directly with the clients.  And the stuff I was doing was not simple work that anyone can just pick up and move on with.  One facet of it involves significant outside training and lots of practice.  The other involves a bunch of very complex files (some of which even I had trouble with after years of working with them) and the brain to be able to conceptualize what's happening within the files.  Not everyone has that--believe me, we've tried.  Some of what I did directly impacted the major client we brought in last year, and this turn of events strikes me as strange since I was always taught that this client's tasks take priority...and yet now that I'm not there, their stuff is simply not going to get done.  I just don't know how you let someone go without some sort of plan to continue their work.  Trust me, what I did was valuable (ask any of the people banging down my digital door every day), and that they felt it wasn't necessary any longer...well, it still blows my mind.  I'd think that even if it wasn't my job.  Like I said, my two department mates were very upset and obviously they realize the gravity of what just happened, but we'll see when the powers that be realize it. 

I trained my one co-worker on some elements of these tasks when I went out on maternity leave two years ago, but most of that was just to keep things moving while I was out.  It was not for long-term maintenance.  That got too complex.  They were in dire straits during those seven weeks simply being down a body.  As my one co-worker said, "Tears were shed."  There was so much work.  And now that situation is permanent.  My boss admitted when I talked to her yesterday that she's pretty sure she's still in denial.  They're just not sure how they're going to get it all done. 

As much as this situation stinks for me, most of the time I feel worse for them.  After all, over the years most people that have left the company seem to find something even better for them.  I have a chance to start over, to find something great.  I'm sort of getting off easy, since I don't have to train anyone to replace me or worry about all of the stuff that I spent the last nine years worrying about.  Meanwhile, they're stuck with all of their work plus mine (much of which they can't do) and figuring out how to move forward like that.  It's completely unfair to all of us, I guess.

Of course, I have no small task ahead of me.  Sure, I have a bit of a severance and I don't have to get up and go anywhere in the morning for a while.  But I need to get a job.  I decided this feels a little bit like graduating from college.  There's a bit of relief when the classes and the studying are done...but then reality sets in that you need to find a job as soon as possible.  Granted, nowadays I have a husband, two kids, and a house, so the stakes are even higher.  But I have 15 years of working experience and a few connections to explore.  Not a terrible place to start, at least.  But it's definitely not what I was expecting, and things are thrown a bit off track at the moment. 

I have a lot more thoughts to share on this, but that's the main part of the story for now.  That it took me this long to blog about it proves that being off work can be just as busy as working.  It's been an eventful few days, to say the least.  It's not every day that your life's entire trajectory changes, and getting used to a new route is quite the process.  At least it will provide a break from me complaining about all of the sickness around here (though did I mention I woke up early Wednesday morning and realized my pinkeye was back?  Yeah.  That was fun.).

So, here goes nothing...stay tuned.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Photo Week(s) in Review

Because we've been in the muck of sickness and being tired from sickness, I've been extra lazy about getting my camera out and pulling off pictures.  So, here's a review of pics from the weekend after New Year's, immediately following my stomach bug but before the current round of sickness.

Jacob's lacrosse team was doing the pregame tunnel and playing at halftime of the Knighthawks' season opener, hence the urgency to get there despite my illness.  Thankfully I felt so much better on Saturday so we could make Jacob's regular game in the afternoon and then head off to the Knighthawks game that night.  It was time for yet another banner raising...third in a row (and judging by the start of this season, probably the last for a while)...

The team got to be on the field to welcome the players out to the turf.  You can't really see them, but Jacob's team is in white to the right of the dancers (in black and teal).  The girls team was across the way in orange.

Here's Jacob ready to go out at halftime.  He was excited, of course!

They did a bit of a free-for-all out there like they did last year, so he ran in to take shots and actually was mixing it up with his teammates a bit.  Boys...any chance for a battle.  They were fine, just silly rolling around on the turf.  Here he is taking a shot...

Meanwhile, Carter was snacking away and smiling at the people above us in the stands.  Everyone loved his tiny jersey, which is getting ever closer to really fitting him.  It is pretty darn cute.

Finally, I had been meaning to take a picture like this since early December, and I finally remembered last week.  This is a view of the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester from my office.  Every year at Christmas they put lights on the cables attached to this piece of artwork, and it really does look pretty.  One of these years I'm actually going to get down there and take pictures from the base.  My boss actually did an awesome Christmas card this year with her abstract photo of it.  I just liked the look of the photo at twilight.  Not bad from 16 stories up, a couple blocks away, and through a window!



In other news...last night was another rough one, with Jacob up in the middle of the night again.  I think the virus must have shifted south...either that or his medicine is wreaking havoc on his system.  Luckily Craig was there so it wasn't just me, but it was yet another night awake for an extended period of time and I am really exhausted today.  This whole couple months of illness has been really draining.  From rough nights to work-related stress (for what I'm not there to be working on) to general stress about the kids' health to worrying about the next thing (which I only started doing recently, given this crazy series of illnesses we've had), it's all been pretty exhausting.  Add in the holidays and the end-of-year/new year stuff at work, and it's been one heck of a challenge.  I'm just ready for some smooth sailing, you know?  Seems like it's been far too long since that was the case, but in the grand scheme of things we're still pretty blessed.  Tired and germ-filled, but blessed.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

More Medical Madness

Sorry to do this again, but this stuff keeps writing itself.  Here's the latest on our ridiculous medical drama. 

After an uneventful day yesterday, bedtime foreshadowed what would become a tough night.  I noticed at bedtime that Carter's low-grade fever was back.  In addition, Jacob didn't seem quite as comfortable at bedtime as he seemed for the rest of the day.  Still, both went down well and I stupidly stayed up later than I should have just because I wanted to get all of the ornaments off the Christmas tree.  I really wanted to get the tree down this weekend, and once I started the ornaments, I really needed to finish them because they're such a mess of boxes, tissue paper, and fragile items.  I probably didn't fall asleep until close to 1am, and almost immediately I was woken up by Carter's frequent whines and whimpers in the night.  Lately he's had a really hard time sleeping--naps have been interrupted, and his nights have been full of pathetic-sounding noises every little bit.  I'm not sure if that's just all of his congestion, or if the underlying cause of the head/ear issues that prompted last week's doctor visit are to blame, or if his molars are torturing him even though they're not even close to coming through yet.  It's a little worrisome, to be honest, but he's back at the doctor in a month anyway so I can nag them then if it's still an issue.  I'm keeping an eye on his coordination and things like that in the meantime, because him complaining about his head scares me.  I guess it's one of the downfalls of having friends whose little girl is in the end stages of brain cancer. :(

Anyway, Carter was constantly making noises, and I was finally able to block them out enough to sleep....only to realize at one point around 2:30am, I think, that Jacob was calling me.  I went down to his room, already exhausted from the previous night on the couch where I barely slept, and encountered a very unhappy little boy.  He was complaining that he was uncomfortable sleeping on his floor (as is our setup when he's sick).  I told him that he'd been fine for a long time, so if he wanted to sleep in his bed, he was probably safe to do so.  But he wasn't comfortable with that and we spent at least an hour with him writhing around on his floor, miserable.  He complained about his stomach and then back pain.  He thought he was going to be sick, but he was OK...and eventually he calmed down and went back to sleep.  It was still a rough rest of the night and I decided to turn off my alarm set for church, assuming that between Carter's fever and Jacob's mess, we wouldn't be making it.

Jacob woke up around 7-7:30, and although he called for me, he kept himself occupied and didn't really bother me.  Carter woke up a bit before 9am, and I finally dragged myself out of bed at 9.  As I was in the bathroom taking my morning pills, Jacob came in.  And immediately I noticed that his face was pink.  And then I looked at the rest of him...and realized he was full of raised pink hives.  HIVES.  Oh sh**.  Pardon the language, but after everything else....that was all I could think.  I immediately freaked out (calmly) and called the doctor.  They wanted us in right away, so I had to get two kids ready alone and rush over. 

The hives were scary, bright pink from his face down to the tops of his thighs.  It hurt to look at him.  I knew it wasn't an allergy thing because he hadn't had anything new recently, so I figured it had to be a virus (sort of like the roseola he had as a baby) and probably was related to the stomach bug.  The nurse said a few other rashes had already come in this morning, so perhaps this is going around! 

This is sort of a weird picture because I took it quickly at the doctor's office with Jacob protesting.  He was on all fours with his head ducked down and his back arched.  It's looking up his back, with his skinny shoulder blades sticking way out and the back of his neck is hiding in the space between them.  This is just a taste of what he had.

The tops of his thighs were solid pink.  His stomach was covered.  He was very itchy.  The doctor wanted to give him a shot of adrenaline and follow up with prednisone and Benadryl.  The shot worked faster than anything oral, so we went that route.  And Jacob promptly got sick.  Poor kid.  But he recovered from that quickly and we waited a while to make sure things were getting better.  It started to fade and we stopped at Wegmans for the rest of the medicine before heading home.  Shortly after lunch he realized it was getting worse again, and while I figured it was just the adrenaline wearing off before the rest of the stuff kicked in, I called the doctor again anyway.  It was normal, and despite the itching (most of the rash came back in spots where it wasn't previously), Jacob took a nap.  When he woke up, all of the hives were gone!  What a relief! 

He'll be on the drugs for a bit yet and we're still on the fence about school tomorrow, but I'm glad the worst appears to be over.  For this round, anyway.  Still feeling cautious about the rest of us avoiding it, and still mildly concerned about Carter's sleep misery, but I keep hoping that one of these illnesses will be the last for a while.  Fingers crossed this is it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

No, Seriously, SO SICK of This...

We are once again the sick house.  I don't know what the heck is going on here, but I'm starting to lose it.  It's not like we're just recycling the same germs, as every illness is different and too much time passes between the vaguely similar ones, but one way or another, those germs just don't want to get out of here. 

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk working away, and my phone rang.  I saw daycare's number flash on the caller ID and I immediately panicked.  Sure enough, Carter had a fever.  His fever was over 103, just like Jacob's was right before Christmas.  He was a little on the sad side, but other than a runny nose, he didn't seem too bad.  In fact, for a while I couldn't even get a fever on the thermometer, but it did come back later.  He had to stay home today because he got sent home with a high fever, so Craig and I split the day.  He took the morning shift and I took over when he had to leave for this weekend's Knighthawks' road trip. 

Carter napped for the first couple hours I was home, but he was coughing himself awake and looking awfully pathetic when I'd go in to rub his back and help him back to sleep.  I managed to de-Christmas most of the house in the meantime, getting down all but the tree.  It felt good to get it done, even though it's always a little depressing to lose some of the color and pizazz around here.  As I was finishing up, the phone rang.  It was the afterschool program, calling to say that Jacob was very upset because his stomach was hurting him.  Now, his stomach tends to hurt a lot--between his Celiac disease, minor constipation, and nerves, sometimes it's hard to tell how serious things are.  He probably has panicky nauseous episodes once a month on average, I'd guess, but very few of them turn into anything.  So...I wrapped up a couple things at home and headed over sometime after 4:30. 

When I got to the school, he looked miserable and was freaking out about how sick he felt.  I rushed him into his boots and coat, and we headed out.  Two steps out the door and he puked on the sidewalk.  Well, at least it wasn't inside, right?  And even more, it wasn't in my car!  I raced home and we had a few nervous moments near the end of the drive, but he made it out of the car and into the house without a problem.  We hung out in the bathroom for a while, but eventually he seemed OK and wanted to go lay down in the living room.  I pulled out the bucket and the comforter so he could take his spot on the floor, as is our custom.  He watched Scooby Doo and drank water for a couple hours and seemed fine.  I gave him some Gatorade mixed with water early in the evening, and just as I was getting Carter ready for bed, he came upstairs in a panic.  I assured him that I was going to get Carter in bed and be in to help him, but he got more frantic while I was reading books, so I had to rush through the end of bedtime and get into the bathroom. 

By then he'd had some diarrhea and looked upset again so I quickly grabbed the garbage can and handed it to him, just in time, in fact.  He had quite the episode and seemed to get out most of whatever was left in his belly.  Poor kid.  Still, once he finished up he was downright giddy, probably because he felt so much better.  We headed back downstairs and he fell asleep almost immediately.  That made me a little nervous, as did the shakes he got shortly afterward in his sleep, but for now he's sleeping soundly.  I'll probably have to get him some water overnight at some point, but he's always tough to wake up so I'm hoping he'll rouse himself a bit later.

In the meantime, I'm sitting on the couch with one ear on the monitor listening to Carter's noises...congested snores, lots of tossing and turning, and some coughs and cries.  Part of me is nervous he'll get this bug, even though he just had one.  Same goes for me.  Craig is on the road until Sunday, so I'm understandably nervous about how all of this might go down.  I'm figuring that I might just let Jacob sleep on the floor in the living room tonight and I'll sleep on the couch nearby.  Easier and less germy than me sleeping on his bed, I suppose.  Hopefully he will feel better tomorrow, but something tells me it will be a low-key day close to home no matter what.  We'll be playing the waiting game, too, to see if anyone else gets anything (including, God forbid, Craig somewhere in Connecticut).  I'm short on backups this time around, too, so I really need to stay healthy.  I've already used one-fifth of my sick days one week into the new year, so I really need all of us to get healthy ASAP and stay healthy.  We've had every sort of virus running through here in the past two months, and we really just need to not be sick anymore.  I'm tired of missing work and it's getting depressing to assume someone else is going to get sick and be right.  I don't know how to up our immunity.  Carter is starting vitamins as soon as I can get to the store (his doc didn't really recommend them and I was waiting until he was two to start chewables, but I think we're going to start a few weeks early), but the rest of us take them and we're doing what we can diet-wise.  I'm just at a loss.  This would be laughable at this point if it wasn't so darn miserable.  I don't mind taking care of my kids, but this has just gotten ridiculous.  I am SO over it.

Please pray.  Please.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Name Game

So...I always wondered when it would happen.  Well, I wondered "if" it would happen, but I sort of always figured it would be a matter of "when".  Jacob wants to be called Jake. 

Over the years people have called him Jake now and then.  Of course, in daycare he was called "Rybi" for a while, because there were two Jacobs in his class and he had the last name more ripe for a nickname, I guess.  He never loved the nickname, or so he says, but he dealt with it.  Since he started school he's been the only Jacob at daycare when he's gone back there, so the nickname got dropped and he was Jacob or Jake, depending on the teacher.  But here and there throughout his life, Jake has popped up once in a while.  Teachers, grandparents, friends...and more often than not it made me cringe a bit.  Not sure why, but he's always been Jacob to me.  At home he's always been Jacob, and officially at school, he's always been Jacob. 

But now....Jake is slowly but surely seeping in.  He signs his school papers like that, his teacher calls him that, and he named his Wii Mii character that.  He likes it better now for some reason.  But I just can't call him that. 

Since the day he was born, to us he's been Jacob.  It was mostly a conscious decision to keep him as Jacob and not start calling him Jake as a baby.  I don't think we had a real reason, at least not outside of wanting to avoid "Jake the Snake" references, but we just stuck with the formal version and left it at that.  He just always seemed to be more of a Jacob to me than a Jake.  Like I said, I figured that at some point (high school, at worst) he'd end up as a Jake, but I guess I never knew how it would happen.  But now it is.  And I'm still resistant. 

He was born my little Jacob, and he's always been my Jacob.  To call him a new name after six years just doesn't jive in my brain.  I hope he doesn't take it personally now that he prefers Jake, but I just don't see it happening...at least not anytime soon.  I'll leave that to other people for now. 

I guess this is just one of those steps of getting older.  Before I know it he's going to be seven, going on to second grade, and then on to a whole new school.  Then it's going to be a few quick years until middle school, then high school, and then who knows what.  He's getting older and some days I don't know what to do with that.  This is just one of those things that's going to shape who he is for years to come.  We need to get used to him expressing himself in ways like this, I suppose.  Probably the least of our worries...but I guess it's a good warm-up.

Still, to me he's just Jacob.  Always has been, probably always will be.  We've got a lot of years ahead, God willing, so I suppose anything is possible, but he's my first baby...and for whatever reason it's a lot harder to divert from "the plan" with your first one.  The plan was Jacob.  And for now, I'm sticking with it.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Getting Sick of This...

Literally, I am so sick of this.  Adding to a long line of sickness, now I am sick.  Originally I thought it was the same illness as Carter had, but this is acting quite different than his.  From start to finish the worst of his was at most eight hours, and it was all throwing up.  After that he seemed fine, asking for water and food right away and having tons of energy.  And then there's me.  I woke up at 3am feeling pretty crappy.  Not to the extent I thought I would end up feeling like I do now, but crappy.  It started as a lower-half problem, but after a couple hours of that, I had one vomiting episode.  Luckily there wasn't much there so it was short-lived, and I felt much better afterward.  But things went downhill from there.  The lower half issues continued--not quite as bad, but not great--and no amount of hydrating seemed to make a difference.  I tried water and a water-Gatorade mix.  I've been consistently drinking all day and I'm still feeling dry.  I ate a couple cups of Rice Chex, then moved along to a banana and some pretzels tonight.  Nothing has come back up, but I'm still getting some gurgling.  I'm exhausted, a little dizzy when I get up, and having some muscle aches that I'm treating with Tylenol right now.  I just don't feel much better, which is discouraging.

Add into the mix that Craig's season officially starts tomorrow, and this is a recipe for disaster.  He's actually out tonight taking care of some media stuff, and I had to leave a screaming Carter in his crib at bedtime because I couldn't risk handling him too much.  He wouldn't leave me alone, kept chewing on things, and basically was the poster child for how illnesses get spread.  So I changed him and put him to bed as quickly as possible.  I felt terrible, but I didn't have much choice.  Jacob can mostly do his own stuff, but it's still a challenge being here alone with them.  Tomorrow Craig has to work most of the day.  Jacob has a lacrosse game, and his team is playing during halftime at the Knighthawks opener tomorrow night.  I have no idea how we're making any of that happen right now.  I'm mostly just praying for a quick overnight recovery.  It's just discouraging when you feel like you're doing all the right things and it's not helping.

I feel like it has been a constant stream of illness in this house for the past few months.  From Craig's shingles and his cold-like illness that he got just before the one I got in November, to my cold that stuck around for six weeks, then pinkeye, now this.  Jacob had his gluten exposure, lots of congestion, and then the fever before Christmas.  Carter has had colds, his Christmas fever, and then his stomach bug.  I feel like it's been an unprecedented series of sick days all along.  My boss probably thinks I'm making it up by now.  I really hoped that the new year would bring better health, but this is not a good start.  I'm worried about anything getting passed along to Craig for the opener or Jacob getting something just in time to go back to school.  Not only would either of those scenarios be awful for them, but it could mean more time off of work that neither of us can afford to take. 

I just don't know what to do next.  We take vitamins, we attempt to eat healthy, and yet one thing after another seems to find us.  Such a bummer way to start the new year...again.