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I just got back from a loooooong 4 day trip to New Orleans for work. The first trip away from my 7 month-old baby. Not cool. For several reasons, including:

1. I’m still breastfeeding. In preparation for this trip away, I dropped one feeding per day and Charlotte got her first taste of formula. Luckily, everything was ok before I left. However, the first day I was there, I stupidly forgot to bring my pump from the hotel, so I had to go from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. with no pumping. Painful. I practically ran to my hotel room after 5 and happily pumped to my heart’s content. But my boobs still hurt for the next 24 hours. It was really uncomfortable. Duly noted, boobs. Thanks.

2. The worst turbulance ever. I’ve had bumpy flights before, but that was nothing compared to my connecting flight from Atlanta to New Orleans. The plane was not only bouncing up and down rapidly, we were also dipping side to side. I was constantly having that stomach falling out your toes feeling that you get on roller coasters, and people around me were doing the sign of the cross and praying. Not very reassuring, passengers! It was so bumpy that the flight attendants didn’t get out of their seats the whole plane. No drinks or pretzels for us!

3. I missed my family. so. much. I’m so thankful for technology because I was able to FaceTime them on my iPhone. Though, the connection wasn’t the greatest in my hotel room. But every time Charlotte’s sweet little face appeared on the screen, I cried. It’s so hard to be away from her, especially because she’s usually velcroed to my side.

But luckily, the trip went by fairly quickly and I happily paid $50 to Delta airlines to switch my flight so I’d get home 2 hours earlier. I would’ve paid $200 to get home faster. But I’m glad that I did it and that my first trip away is officially over. I hope work doesn’t make me travel again for a long, long time.

P.S. Kudos to my husband for holding down the fort with two kids, a dog and a house under construction. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a baby and a little boy to go kiss.

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Sick Day

Well, we had a really nice three week stretch where no one in this house had a cold. Hallelujah! I’ve written about the dreaded preschool germs before, but it seemed that maybe we were actually over the hump, three months into the school year. Not quite yet.

Riley was sick for a couple days with a very runny nose and a cough and the day after he got sick, I got sick. And I still am. This is day SEVEN.

So yesterday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, where I had big plans of beginning our Christmas decorating, cleaning the house, organizing Charlotte’s closet with her much-needed 6 month clothes, shopping, running and some other fun stuff, it turned into an entire day of doing absolutely nothing.

I literally laid on the couch the entire day watching a marathon of Guilliana & Bill. I would sit up just to feed Charlotte, and then I’d lay back down again. I never even changed out of my pajamas. Derek picked up some food for dinner. I didn’t even brush my teeth until bed time, now that I think about it.

But the best part? My awesome husband offered to get up with Charlotte last night.

So for the very first time in her 4.5 months of life, we slept in separate rooms. And for the first time in 4.5 months, I didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself while I slept. I woke up refreshed at 6 a.m., though my boobs were about to burst. I brought Charlotte into bed to feed her, and we both fell back to sleep until 7:30.

That’s the problem when you’re the mom. Everyone needs you, which is usually wonderful. When I’m sick, I have the hardest time putting myself first. Sorry kid, can’t play with you, I’m sick. Sorry baby, someone else will have to hold you, I’m sick. Which is precisely why I’m still sick 7 days later.

So yesterday, I called in sick to motherhood. And it felt awesome. Hopefully my cold is completely gone by tomorrow. Just in time to go back to work….

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Finding the Thankful in the Everyday

Sure, there are the normal things that I’m thankful for – a roof over our heads  that is getting better and more complete with every strike of the hammer; a job that affords me the luxury of purchasing new jeans when I need them and trading in my old school flip phone for an iPhone (hello new world!); and a healthy, loving immediate and extended family that I can’t wait to spend time with over the long holiday weekend.

But for as much mushy thank yous as I can ponder, there are also the everyday thank yous that I cannot neglect.

  • Thank you for me only catching a common cold from my son. I guess it could be worse. I could have the bubonic plague now or something. Instead, I’ve gone through an entire box of Kleenex in ONE day and while conducting a phone interview at work, I kept hacking up a lung in the poor guy’s ear.
  • Thank you for the ability to breastfeed, especially while sick. This should help keep Charlotte from getting this glorious cold. However, I don’t recommend attempting to blow your constantly dripping nose while pumping in the medical room at work. Here’s what will happen, the pump will shift slightly, causing the precious milk to pour all over your lap. You’ll wonder, “What is that warm sensation on my lap?” Only to look down, horrified, and see a puddle of human milk on your lap. How are you going to conceal that for the whole day? And what if someone asks what you spilled on your pants? What are you going to tell them? Thankfully, running home on lunch and changing clothes took care of that for me!

However, more than anything, I’m thankful for a kick ass husband and these two. And the ability to take cheesy pictures of them that will embarass them when they’re older. Muwahaha!

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The Last 3 Weeks

Well, hello blog. Sorry for my absence. Being a full time working mother of two is hard, yo. This is my third week back at work and it’s been eventful.

Having your client come to town during your first week back at work after a 10-week hiatus is crazy. My first week included busy days and one late night out on the town with the client. My poor boobs almost exploded in downtown Milwaukee.

Speaking of, pumping at work sucks. I’m grateful that there’s a private room where I can do this, but really. Not enjoyable. I am able to come home on lunch and feed Charlotte (hallelujah!), but I’m still pumping twice a day at work. I just hate having to reschedule meetings and disappear for a while to do this. But I feel strongly that breastfeeding is important, so I will endure.

Again, speaking of, …two Saturdays ago. Ugh. Where do I begin. We woke up Saturday morning and I looked at Charlotte in her basinet next to our bed and noticed some brown on her jammies. I had gotten up to feed her twice during the night (yikes) but I didn’t notice anything strange. Except for some seriously bad nipple pain (sorry to any male readers). Then I realized, that brown on her jammies is blood mixed in with spit up. THAT’S NEVER GOOD.

I had a brief heart attack at the thought of my newborn baby spitting up blood. Then I had a realization. She wasn’t bleeding, I was. Apparently when you go from rarely pumping to pumping at least twice a day for 5 days, your nips don’t really like it. Ouch.

Since I couldn’t feed Charlotte while my nip healed, I had to pump and dump all weekend. Doesn’t that sound like a fun, wild weekend? Well it sure was! But it gets better!

In the midst of super duper sore nipples, Derek disconnecting our washer and dryer to drywall the laundry room, I got a cold. Yes! Because that’s what happens to me.

By Tuesday, I felt like death. So even though I was just off of work for 10 weeks and had only worked 6 days, I had to come home early and lay on the couch. However, children don’t really get the memo when you’re sick. Big whoop. Mommy’s sick? I should take a long nap? Nope!

My second weekend wasn’t much better. Still no laundry room while Derek tiled the floor in there. Oh, the laundry pile. It was epic.

And I think it may have been that laundry pile that morphed itself into the straw that broke the camel’s back. Me being the camel, of course. By Saturday night, I was spent. Would you like to know why? Well sit back. Here is a bulleted list:

  • The previous night, I was up every single hour with Charlotte while she experienced her first cold! Unbelievable! Riley never got sick until he was 9 months old. Again, thanks for bringing home those preschool germs, son! All night her poor nose was so stuffed up that she couldn’t breathe. Babies don’t know how to breathe out of their mouths, apparently. So all night she snorted and chortled and coughed. It was so sad.
  • Also, Friday night, Derek’s band played so he didn’t come home until 3 a.m. And Charlotte and I were up to greet him. He set up the humidifer for her and we all settled in for a nice four-hour stretch until Riley woke us up at 7.
  • For some odd reason, it took my handyman of a husband 8 hours to tile a tiny laundry room. Therefore, I was alone upstairs with the kids while he worked. All day. Have I mentioned I was sleep-deprived?
  • I had cleaned the house that day, gone grocery shopping and taken both kids to the farmer’s market. A relaxing weekend? Of course!
  • Again, by Saturday night, I was so completely fried that there was a 100% chance of mental breakdown. And that’s what happened. No one prepares you for how overwhelming it is to become a mom for the first time. And no one REALLY tells you how overwhelming it can be to have two children. And work full time. And still try to have your own identity.

The next day,  I took a long run and felt instantly better. I’ve written about it before, but running is so therapeutic for me. Derek and I have figured out a game plan so I can run at least 3 times a week. And suddenly, I feel more like myself.

And to end on a happy note, look at my beautiful children. I love them so much, that’s overwhelming.

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The End of Maternity Leave

How is it possible? I have to go to work tomorrow? Ten weeks passed by that quickly? I don’t believe it. But really, my last day at work was July 6. That was a loooong time ago when you think about it. So come tomorrow morning, we’ll be setting up a new routine. With me dropping Riley off at preschool, pumping at least twice a day while at work (ugh), coming home on lunch to feed Charlotte, and hopefully having enough hours in the day to make a healthy dinner at night and have some fun in the backyard with the family. That’s all I ask for.

Because I’m feeling nostalgic for the last ten weeks, here is a look at our family maternity leave in pictures.

It all started with the birth of this little girl. The painful, drug-free birth. I still can’t believe I did that.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I will never, ever forget the look on Riley’s face when he met his sister for the first time. His eyes were wide with disbelief, wonder and pure, ultimate happiness. It was amazing.

A lot of my maternity leave was spent exactly like this. Not that I’m complaining. An added bonus? My left arm is ripped!

You gotta love baby #2. When she was 2 weeks old we ventured out to the zoo with her. And saw dinosaurs. At the zoo. Huh?

We went to the Wisconsin State Fair even though it was in the 90s. After walking around for about an hour, we were too hot to continue, so we headed home. But not before Riley and Daddy had a ride on the giant slide.

Every so often Riley asks to hold his sister. We prop her on a few pillows and I stand there with my hands inches away from them just to make sure. And when he holds her, things like this happen, unprompted. He’s smitten with his “little princess.”

 

And then our little girl turned one whopping month old. 

 

Her little tiny smiles (she’s almost always got one for Daddy and one for Riley) turned into big grins:

 

Poor girl is wearing her brother’s hand me down doggie jammies. Get used to it, kiddo!

 

She had her first boat ride at Grandma and Grandpa’s! However, with the drought we had this summer, the water was too low to actually leave the pier. We’re still calling it her first boat ride, though. And yes, she has a teeny tiny life jacket.

 

At our family reunion this summer she got to meet extended family and we took the first picture of us as a family of four (!!!!). Crazy.

 

One of my favorite moments of the summer – the beach! Even though Charlotte’s diaper exploded everywhere and I may have flashed some teenage boys while nursing her. It was still good.

 

One reason I”m thankful for the drought was that the 4th of July fireworks were postponed until Labor Day! And started at 8:00 so we could go to them and still get Riley home sort of near his bedtime. We loved it. There’s something about laying on a blanket in the dark during the summer. 

 

Labor Day in our backyard. In cute outfits. Have I mentioned I love dressing up a little girl?

 

And then Char Char Binks turned 2 months old and I started feeling the impending doom of heading back to work.I think my fondest memories of the day-to-day of my maternity leave were our daily walks to the playground. Usually it was just me and the kids (and our pup Lola) at the playground and we always had fun. I think this is one of the things I’ll miss the most.

Goodbye, maternity leave. Thank you for the best 10 weeks of my life.

 

 

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Divine IRA Intervention

Planning for my impending maternity leave has been an eye-opening experience. I didn’t know how good I had it at my last job when they offered full pay for 6 weeks (followed by the remaining unpaid 6 weeks that FMLA offers). At that time, I opted to use 2 weeks of vacation and get fully paid for my 8-week maternity leave.

This time around, with a different job, they offer ….4 weeks at 60% of my normal pay rate. Ugh. Seriously? I know some companies offer absolutely nothing (which is absolutely ridiculous, in my opinion), but I work for a company of over 200 people, which makes over $30 million per year. You would think we could get some better benefits.

Anyway, the other day, Derek compiled how much money we will exactly need to bank before baby #2 arrives and my income drops dramatically. We’ve been saving up for months, and as of Derek’s calculations, we were just a couple hundred dollars away from where we needed to be and we still have 4 weeks to go until my due date. Nice, right?

That day I came home from work, after talking to my HR representative and figuring out which weeks I will receive no pay at all. I told Derek that now at least we know the days we’ll have to eat Hamburger Helper for dinner.

Amidst the pile of mail on the counter was one from Wells Fargo. I almost threw it away. I get so many credit card and refinancing offers, it’s not unusual for me to rip something up and throw it away without opening it.

Well it’s a good thing I opened it.

The enclosed letter informed me that Wells Fargo had tried to reach me several times but to no avail. On the letter was printed my maiden name and my address before we bought our house five years ago. As I read through the letter, my eyes widened.

Apparently, I have an IRA that I completely forgot about. It was opened in 2008. It contains $1,700. I never knew it existed. It’s like winning the lottery! The letter stated that if they didn’t hear from me after this letter, my money would become assets of the state.

I immediately called the number to get some details and make sure this is legit. It is.

At first, I assumed I would just roll it over into my existing IRA. Then I thought, no, if there’s ever time that we need extra money, it’s now. We’re going to have a mountain of medical bills (thanks crappy health insurance!), not to mention lost wages during my maternity leave, not to mention the expenses of having Riley start private preschool, and um….adding another person to our lives (and health insurance). So yes, we need the money.

And no, it could not have come at a better time.

I really feel like maybe this is some form of divine intervention. Or karma coming back and being kind to me. Either way, I’m thankful and this a welcome way to rid my pregnant self of some stress.

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Well, May Is Off To A Great Start

It’s May Day. I think that means something in certain countries, but I have no idea what. Here is how the first day of May went down in our household.

2:12 a.m. I wake up having to pee. Surprisingly, this hasn’t been a regular occurrence as of late. I get up and go to the bathroom. When I return, I cannot, for the life of me, fall back to sleep.

2:47 a.m. Still awake. My mind is wandering on such stupid thoughts as what to wear to work tomorrow, how Derek will get to the airport for an upcoming trip, why does the dog smell?

3:03 a.m. I can feel myself starting to drift off. FINALLY.

3:07 a.m. I hear the unmistakable sound of dry-heaving. Coming from the dog on the floor at the foot of our bed. Suddenly, I hear the REALLY unmistakable sound of the dog puking all over her dog bed.

3:08 a.m. I get up, flip on the light, get paper towels and cleaner and clean up the dog puke.

3:53 a.m. STILL AWAKE. Ugh. I think I fell asleep sometime around 4.

7:17 a.m. I awake to the sound of Riley calling, “Mommy! Mommy!” I nudge Derek and ask him to go in Riley’s room because “I can’t move.” Literally. I couldn’t move. My loving husband obliges.

7:27 a.m. After coming to, I hear the boys talking in the other room and I realize I need to get up and start getting ready for work. I walk into Riley’s room and see that Derek has the bed stripped of its sheets. “Good morning!” Derek says pseudo-cheerfully. I see poop on the sheets. I see poop coming out of the top of Riley’s diaper. Ruh-Roh.

7:30 a.m. I am starting a load of poopy laundry while Derek scrubs the man clean. Needless to say, Riley is not thrilled with his morning wake up call. And neither are we.

7:47 a.m. I hop in the shower. Having no time to eat breakfast. Wonder how I’m going to get ready, eat breakfast and get to work on time. Then wonder if I can make it til lunch without eating. Then laugh at the mere thought of that.

8:01 a.m. I’m blow drying my hair and Riley comes into the bathroom. He tells me he spilled. Ruh Roh, again. Turns out, in an attempt to “help” his daddy make the morning coffee that we both desperately needed, Riley spilled a little bit of coffee grounds on the floor. Then, in typical 3-year old fashion, he PURPOSELY spilled a whole scoop of coffee grounds on the floor.

8:02 a.m. Riley is in a time out, while Derek vacuums up the coffee grounds. Yells of “I want to be a good boy!” fill the air. Then don’t purposely throw coffee on the floor, kid.

8:20 a.m. Ready for work, I decide that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. I pour myself a bowl of Kashi and a glass of water and decide to sit on the couch for 5 minutes and eat my breakfast, while Riley and Derek eat theirs.

8:21 a.m. I set my cup down on the ottoman and hear a plop. I have no idea how, but Mr. Potato Head’s ear falls off into my water glass. I fish it out and continue my breakfast. Riley laughs hysterically.

8:28 a.m. I leave for work. Hearing Riley still laughing, “Mr. Potato Head’s ear fell in Mommy’s water!”

I’m late for work, unprepared for the day, but seeing all the things that went wrong, I figure the fact that I made it to work in one piece a success.

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