Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Next Step

Congratulations me, I have a masters. Toss the confetti, ring some joyous bells, and light the sparklers.

Now, the next step...

I've done this before, toyed with the 'going back to work' thing. I've looked occasionally, and would go through spurts of a month or two where occasionally I'd get bites, but mainly, nothing.

I have learned a few things though, and hopefully, when I do it THIS time, it will be different....

  • First, overcoming the 'I stayed at home' thing: I'm re-ordering my resume by skill vs. by time except for where a higher degree is preferred. This does two things: In the first case, it disguises the four-year gap where I stayed home. In the second case, it explains the four-year gap as me going back for more education (if they don't do the math, which they usually don't on first glance, they won't figure out it was a 2 1/2 to 3 year degree).
  • Second, I'm changing my career focus. Forget Public Relations. I've never been successful in finding employment in this field, to the point where I'm beginning to harbor a deep resentment for the field, after all, it's the one I worked in for ten years, the one I actually got my degree in... but after all this time, I'm beginning to take the lack of PR job bites personally so p'shah, it isn't working, it hasn't worked, and there's no reason to suddenly believe it will work. (Yes, I know it's irrational to take rejection personally, but when you train and educate yourself in a field for so long, I think you're entitled to just a wee-bit of irrationality). Good-bye PR. We probably wouldn't get along, anyhow. Hello business management.
  • Third, it's time to just keep at it. And avoid all the horrifying economically dire news going on in the nation. It makes things harder, but it's not an excuse to stop trying.
So wish me luck, because one thing I did decide after receiving this shiny new degree, is that I will make it pay, I will leverage it, and I will (eventually) be employed. And yes yes, I know I am starting out in a new field, so obviously I won't go 'back' to where I was, but that is what the degree is for, to make it easier to re-enter at a decent level.

This moment of optimism brought to you by someone who hasn't had enough coffee yet to face reality.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bad News For Squirrels

My boy has not had a good day. The part of my brain that thinks EVERYTHING is my fault is saying it's because I left him yesterday. Yeah, I'm a bad mommy, I left bags of pumped (and bleeding to death would be more pleasant than pumping) breastmilk in the fridge and left the baby in the care of his utterly devoted father. Where the hell does this guilt come from? Does it just float around looking for someone to splatter?

But seriously, I went to a strange city, rode public transportation, spent hours in a crowded airport waiting for a delayed flight, and spent a few hours in a flying tube with a closed ventilation system. Who knows what nasty germs I brought home? It's all my faaaaaaaault...

Anyway. The boy barely napped all day. He got tired at the right times, but every time he started to drift away...

JINGLEJINGLEJINGLE. Freaking collar tags.

One or both beagles would get up (JINGLE), stretch each leg (JINGLEJINGLE), lick a furry crotch (JINGLEJINGLEJINGLE), sneeze (JINGLE), and then have a good shake (JINGLEJINGLEJINGLEJINGLEJINGLEJINGLEJINGLEJINGLEJINGLE).

If I take the collars off, that's when someone will leave the gate open and the dogs will take off and try to get back to Virginia, away from this northern outpost of hell.

However! After the last jingle jangle outburst, I went after them both with ponytail holders. Their collars are silent, but they are still identifiable. I am a genius!

The squirrels disagree. At least the fat one that used to own the side yard is bitterly resentful of the new Stealth Beagle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Times Like This

Working from home has its ups and downs. One of the downs is my daughter spends more time watching TV than I'd like. Another is that it's so much harder to leave work "at work." In the evenings and weekends the computer is always taunting me with all the things I need to do.

This morning I experienced one of the ups of working at home. I'd put the baby down for his morning nap, and then peeked in about 10 minutes later expecting him to be asleep. He was still quietly looking around his room though. So I picked him up and cradled him, walking until he fell asleep. As I kissed his sweet little head and put him back down in his crib I felt so lucky.

Yes, maybe my job is being not-so-subtle about wanting me to come back to the office, and yes, maybe my house is a wreck, and yes, sometimes I feel guilty and think my daughter would be happier spending her days playing with other kids.

But now and then there's a moment like this and I know this is the right thing for us right now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Notes On Cosleeping.

This post is to make me more efficient. I feel like I answer the same dozen questions over and over, and while I'm glad to answer them, I don't always have time. This way I can hand out a link! So, in no particular order:

Is it safe to cosleep?

Yes, assuming you aren't drunk, high, or into giant heavy fluffy comforters that your infant cannot kick off. The deaths attributed to cosleeping almost always involve a "parent" (quotes used intentionally) who is too drunk or stoned to know where he or she is located in time and space. Seriously. Don't take my word for it, don't take the word of the morons leading "separate sleep" campaigns, just look up the stats and decide for yourself. That's how I made my decision.

Why do you cosleep?

Because I like sleeping. Right now I have an exclusively breastfed infant, and I sleep from 11 to 2, and from 2:15 to 7. Occasionally it's 11-5, and then 5:15 to 7. That break in the middle is to get the baby his meal. I don't sit up, I don't wake up 100%, and I drift right back into slumber. I'm not sleep deprived, I'm fully functional, I work at a full-time job, and I have lots of energy to keep my house, if not CLEAN, then SANITARY.

What about... er... um...

Living room.



No, seriously, what does your husband think?

He wasn't sure at first, because he was worried about smushing the baby. And to be fair, when the baby was teeny tiny, not really strong enough to kick or otherwise alert us to problems, we had him sleep in one of these dealies. The sides are high enough that the little man was safe from his giant fumbling parents. By around five weeks, we stopped using it. We all had more room, and the little guy was perfectly capable of indicating his preferences.

These days, my husband looks at us, sighs blissfully, and says "it's so awesome seeing my family all safe and snug with me." Bear in mind that my husband is the kind of guy who hears noises in the night and jumps up hoping to kick an intruder's ass. He also checked the baby's breathing approximately one million times in the first week. Now he's down to half a million. If the baby was in another room, my husband would wear a path in the carpet going back and forth all night.

And although no one ever asks, let me say that I would not have made the decision to have the little man in bed with us (or ANY OTHER MAJOR KID DECISION) without my husband's full buy in. I respect the idea that people feel so strongly about something that they're willing to go against their mate, but I think that's a hell of a way to run a marriage... and the kid will eventually leave, whereas the spouse is in theory for a lifetime. Just my two cents.

Is a pillowtop mattress safe?

It depends. We have one. But it's not a very deep one, and we use a tight mattress cover and tight sheets, so the kid can't sink into it.

Did you remove all your pillows and blankets like you're supposed to?

No. HOWEVER - I rarely sleep with a pillow, never have, so mine are pretty much just wedged at the top for reading-in-bed. And as I said, for the first five weeks he was in a little nest, and we kept our big comforter tucked in too low to pull over him. Now that he's bigger, and the temperature calls for a light coverlet, we tuck him in right along with us... but only after he demonstrated he could kick it off. He can and does.

How do you keep from smushing him?

Do you fall off the bed? No? That's because you know where the edge is even when you're sleeping. I am an extremely deep sleeper, and yet somehow I wake up every morning at the exact edge of the bed, because in my sleep I have encountered my offspring and instinctively moved away from him.

Also, he kicks like a mule when you're in his space. We tested this once when he was deeply asleep and we were awake.

Are you into Attachment Parenting?

Well, after reading a whole lot of studies and books, and talking to parents I respected, I thought breastfeeding sounded like the best and most convenient food, a baby carrier sounded like the most efficient means of hauling the kid around, and sleeping in the same bed sounded like the best chance for us all to get our sleep. I didn't realize it was a philosophy until afterwards.

Where does he nap?

Depends. If he's sleepy but not cranky, I put him down in his pack and play. If I've missed his signals, and he's gone into overtired cranky mode, I take him to the big bed and nurse him down, but I try to get up while he's still awake. Only at nighttime do we all get into the big bed and stay there.

When will you move him to his own bed?

If he's anything like his parents, he will not be able to sleep smushed up against another person. My mate and I were thrilled to discover that we were both the "hug, snuggle, kiss goodnight, and then roll over into personal space" types. Nothing's worse than a personal space sleeper being married to an all night snuggle sleeper.

We are seeing signs of his being like us (in this respect, anyway) already. As a tiny infant he would cuddle to sleep, but he stopped doing that several months ago. He loves to snuggle, but only when he's awake. If he rolls into one of us at night, he either rolls away or protests until he's moved. He has started to occasionally miss the middle of the night feeding. So, when he starts consistently missing that feeding, we will start using the crib.

What would you suggest for people who would like to cosleep?

A king size bed.

Okay, seriously - I use a large flannel receiving blanket spread under me and the baby. In the event of baby hork, leaking breasts, copious drooling, or overloaded diapers, it's faster and easier to whisk off and replace the flannel than all the sheets. Protects the mattress, too. We've only had a few incidents, but better safe than sorry.

What would you say to people who think cosleeping is dangerous?

Do your own research instead of relying on advertising slogans and received wisdom.

What do you think about people who choose to use cribs from birth onwards?

I think that most people ultimately do what is best for their families, and if the best thing for a family - parents AND kids - is a crib, bring it on. There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to choose a crib - but cosleeping being dangerous is not one of them.