Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just wait, Marissa Mayer, and believe the hype.

Marissa Mayer is in the news again. In her first interview as Yahoo CEO she claimed "The baby's been easy!" 
From the beginning, I have been confused by this woman. She becomes the CEO of Yahoo at 6 months pregnant, a huge triumph for working mothers everywhere. Then, she takes a 2 week maternity leave which doesn't help anyone, including herself. But that is her prerogative, and to be fair, she didn't ask to be the poster child for working moms. Now she says everyone made the whole baby thing out to be much harder than it really is. Cue the teeth grinding...  
My response - just wait, Marissa. In the beginning, babies sleep all the time and you can take them anywhere and everywhere. I spent many a day at work in my babies' first 6 months with them napping in the stroller quietly while I did some work, held a small meeting,etc. It's definitely doable. But then the sick days start kicking in and all hell breaks lose. And you can't take a 2 year-old to work with you and tell them to play quietly under your desk. So just wait, Marissa, your baby and the challenges of motherhood will live up to the hype.
Izzy at 3 months, helping me prepare a presentation at work.

Don't get me wrong - I don't wish any ill will or tough times on Marissa. I don't wish that for any new mom. And while I know she didn't ask for the role, I do wish she would champion working moms, and all working parents, in a way that acknowledges the challenges rather than just plowing right over them. Is that too much to ask?

On a positive note, since it is the positive side that keeps me going in all this, I liked Mayer's response when asked how she manages everything on her plate: "Ruthlessly prioritize." Maybe she can be the working mom's champion after all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Rush

How is it possible that we are already at the end of November? I had such good intentions this year of having my Christmas lists done early, decorations up, holiday plans in place. And yet once again, here I sit behind the eight ball. No lists, no decorations, no plans.
But it's not December yet - I can still make a come back. If I only knew where to start. I'm not sure how to approach the holidays this year since we're displaced from our home. With 5 years in our old house, we had established some traditions as to where to put the tree, how to hang the stockings, and have just the right amount of decorations to feel festive but not cluttered (Ryan would disagree on this last point). But our stockings are in storage along with our Christmas tree skirt and all our other holiday gear. So I'll have to get creative and see what I can do with some twinkle lights and a paper chain or two. I like a good challenge.
Since we don't have a yard right now and there aern't many trees downtown, I feel like we missed out on some of my favorite parts of fall this year. It was unseasonably warm the day before Thanksgiving and we spent a leisurely, unstructured hour plus at Loose Park with the kids. I think Charlie missed romping in the leaves this fall without a yard. And for Izzy, it was a totally new experience to see the fallen leaves, hear them crunch, and taste them...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top 10 reasons I am thankful to be a working mom

I spend a lot of time thinking out loud on this blog about being a working mom. Usually this takes the form of questioning my career and family choices, and voicing my fears in an effort to gain perspective on what feels like an emotional roller coaster most days (read here, here and here). Not today. In the spirit of the season, I am putting together my TOP 10 Reasons I am Thankful to be a Working Mom.

10. I like taking my kids to my lab and showing them what mom does all day. With any luck, maybe they will think science is cool.

9. I like contributing to the family budget (read, shoe shopping without guilt!).

8. I need a place to go on Monday morning. No further explanation needed.

7. I enjoy the challenge of research, teaching and mentoring students. Some days my students actually listen to me and hear what I'm telling them. That rarely never happens at home.

6. I have new stuff to talk to my husband about at the end of the day that doesn't revolve around nap schedules and diapers. 

5. I like the occasional short work trip with a nice hotel, room service and watching tv in bed. All by myself.

4.  I'm teaching my children that there is more to me than just being their mom.

3. I like being asked "So, what do you do?"

2. Playing stay at home mom on occasion (when no one is sick and I can choose the day) is fun and rewarding.

1. As a working mom, all my eggs are not in one basket. A bad day at work can be cancelled by hugs and kisses at home. A stretch of sick days and toddler tantrums can be quickly forgotten by a new success at work.  

All in all, I'm very lucky and fortunate to have the blessings and complaints I have on a daily basis.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

It can get worse, part deux

Wait, a bulldozer in the front yard...can it be? Have we started construction, finally??
Ha! That would be a negative. I drove by our house yesterday to see the fence destruction and what did I find? 4 KP&L trucks parked in front of our house, a bulldozer on the front lawn, and a man standing shoulder deep in a newly dug hole in our yard. Turns out we had a gas leak. Of course we did. I think we're going to rent the movie "Money Pit" over the weekend and just get it all out of our system now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An interview with Charlie

Charlie's class has switched from talking about apples to bones. They've collected various gloves and masks to create doctor's kits, complete with stethoscopes. Yesterday they examined a collection of bones from a local butchery, The Local Pig. Charlie's teachers asked us a couple weeks ago if we thought Charlie might want to share his experience breaking his arm with his class. We told them to go for it, but we had no idea what he would do or say. Do we ever??

From a teacher's email:

During meeting, Charlie shared his experience at the doctor’s office with us when he received the cast on his arm.  Charlie explained to us first what happened.  He told us “it’s a cast,” as he held his arm up.  “I hurt my arm.”  Kate asked “What part of your body got hurt?”  Grace said “the bone.”  Charlie then continued and stated that he was at the doctor and got a teddy bear and chips, and milk.  “What was the doctor doing?” the teacher wondered.  Charlie said he put the cast on too, my fingers are out a little bit (Charlie showed us how his fingers stuck out of the cast then.)  There’s white stuff under my hard cast.  The teacher wondered why it was a hard cast?  Charlie simply replied “to make the bone much better.”  After Charlie gave his explanation about his cast, we had a short question/answer with Charlie.  This gives the children the opportunity to express what they are thinking and wanting to know more about Charlie’s trip to the doctor and his cast.  Here’s how the questions and answers from Charlie went.  He called children’s names and each child had a turn to ask a  question if they were interested:

-Abraham-How did you ever break your bone?

-Charlie-The slide was slippery and fell off and I landed on the wood chips.

-Vivien-It has rain on it and you fell off?

-Charlie-No rain, but I slipped off.

-Sam-When he did it, he might’ve rolled off the top of the slide and rolled on the wood chips. 

-Charlie-I didn’t see and slipped off.

-Nick-Did you drive there?

-Charlie-Mommy or dad did.

-Miles-One day when I was sick, I came to the doctor.

-Charlie-I got ice cream and a teddy bear.

-Grace-One day my sister went to the doctor, she wasn’t feeling very good.

-Charlie-Did she get sick?

-William-I’m gonna be a cow costume for Halloween.  The doctor gave Charlie some medicine.

-Charlie-The doctor didn’t give me any medicine.

-Beatrice-Did you poke your arm?

-Charlie-I go to the doctor when I’m sick.

-Ilan-He has a cast and a teddy bear in the picture.

-Emilia-when I was a baby, I went to the doctor and couldn’t hear and they put ear tubes in.

-Charlie-No, no ears.

-Beau-The doctor do something so your arm wouldn’t fall off?

-Charlie-If he didn’t do something, the arm might’ve fallen off, then you wouldn’t have a hand, or hold your puppy or scissors. 

-Auggie-Did you bump into something?

-Charlie-The wood chips.

-Yenna-Did you hurt your arm and slip?

-Charlie-Yes, I fell off the slide. 
Yep, that's about how conversations go in our house...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Things can always get worse

Just when we've reached the height of frustration with banks, home owner's assocations, BZAs and the like, some developer goes and tears down the house behind us and takes out our fence and tree in the process. Really?!
Not only did they take out our fence and tree, they took down several power lines. All the houses on our street, including ours, are without power. Way to make friends in the new neighborhood.  
And just a week before this, they 'trimmed' the trees around this same house before knocking it down...look at the excellent job they did there.
This fine work also took out the power on the block. Unbelievable. The one silver lining is that these guys have set the bar very low for building construction with minimal disturbance to the new neighbors. Yeesh.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Of brining and basting

Thanksgiving is next week! Can you believe it? If you are hosting, is your menu planned? If not hosting, do you have a signature item your family expects you to make and bring?

I'll be making my Grandmother Helen's Pumpkin Chiffon pies - it wouldn't be Thanksgiving in my family without them. I've never hosted the whole shebang - but thinking ever so optimistically about being in our forever home by next Thanksgiving - Ryan has offered to host in 2013. He had better start taking notes now! (Did I adequately distance myself from this task?)

Speaking of our forever-home building nightmare adventure, we're hoping to finalize plans with our second bank this week and get on with it (C & Iz are learning new words at home like insomnia, stress, and self-medication). We are so ready to get on with it. We'll be ready to build finally, so bring on Winter!*

*Never sure how well sarcasm translates in cyberspace, so that was sarcasm folks. Painful sarcasm fueled by frustration and despair. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

On my nightstand


It's been awhile since I've had the luxury of reading a few books for pleasure (and it took me forever to get through my last stack, thanks to Steve Jobs' book. Glad I finished it, but it definitely changed my opinion of him, and not for the better). I'm happily making my way through a new stack.

1. Doctor on Everest by Kenneth Kamler, M.D. I bought this book for Ryan, but I'm reading it first. This book is another account of the tragic Everest expedition from 1996 (I've also read Into Thin Air and Climb) but from the perspective of someone trying to aid survivors of that epic storm. Kamler recounts his experience being a team physician for 5 or 6 different Everest attempts, including 1996 when 5 people died on the mountain. I find the medicine and science behind climbing the world's highest mountain both incredible and ridiculous. This book has been keeping me up late.

2. Academic Motherhood by Kelly Ward and Lisa Wolf-Wendel. This book is next on my list. Wolf-Wendel is a professor at KU in Lawrence and will be speaking to my 'girl power' group at work at the end of the month. I'm looking forward to her research on many, many moms in academia giving me insight into my own daily struggles for balance.

3. Beyond Snapshots by Rachel Devine and Peta Mazey falls into my learn something new category. Since purchasing my DSLR last Spring, I have really enjoyed using it and have taken many, many pictures. But it also makes me want to take better pictures and this book promises to teach me how to get it off "Auto" and make the most of my photos. I first learned about the book from reading Devine's blog where she shows amazing photos of her kids. I don't have ambitions to be the world's most original and artistic photographer, I just want to take interesting and lovely photos of my favorite 3 ft tall subjects.

4. Elevating the Everyday by Tracey Clark. This book is similar to Snapshots, a guide to taking better pictures of your kids and daily life events. Probably overly ambitious to read two books on photography, but I don't expect to sit down and read these cover to cover. I hope to challenge myself with one new skill or technique each week.

What is on your nightstand right now? This stack is a bit short for my preference and all my other books were inadvertently put in storage. I'm looking for suggestions and anything goes!

Do you like to read books about travel and far away places, even when you don't have plans to visit anytime soon? I always have a case of wanderlust, probably heightened now by having kids that make major travel less likely. For me, reading about exciting and faraway places is a close second to actually being there.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Never take it for granted

I remember going to vote with my parents when I was growing up. Living in a small town, they voted at the church directly across the street from our house. I remember well the voting booths with red, white and blue curtains lined up in the church basement. When I was little I was allowed to go inside the magic curtain with my Mom. But as I got older, I had to wait outside. My parents never told us who they voted for, but they always used to joke about how they cancelled each other's votes every year. When I got older I figured out this was because one was conservative, one was liberal. If their strategy behind not telling us how they voted was an effort to get us to think for ourselves, I would venture to say it worked. Of the three of us kids, we turned out one staunch Republican, one bleeding heart liberal, and one that maybe lies somewhere in the middle depending on the issue. Those of you that know us, can surely figure out which is which!

The picture above is from the National Archives, my new polling location. A pretty cool place to vote!