Tuesday, September 23, 2014

(f)unemployed!

Last Friday I officially signed all the paperwork, turned in my ID, and became a stay-at-home mama. Granted, I've been home since giving birth in June, but I didn't realize I'd been holding on to a bit of stress over the whole thing. Stress about not leaving my work the way I would have had the baby not come early. Stress about things at the office not transitioning smoothly (for multiple reasons, not just my abrupt absence). Stress about not officially being off the books, and knowing that it impacted getting a replacement in the door. A lot of random things really that I didn't need to think about. 

Now that I'm officially a SAHM, I can say it is the actual hardest job I have ever had. It was so easy to only worry about clocking 8 hours a day, then getting to go home and not think about work until the next day. But now? I'm on duty full-time! Even when my husband is here, I'm still never truly "off." I definitely did not anticipate how exhausting/challenging it would be. Despite that, I'm still so grateful that I can be home, because I know that many parents don't have that option. 

Plus? My little bug is the cutest. I know I'm biased, but she really is! ;)



(P.S. And in case you think I'm only having fun, my new best friends are GRE study books. Must get back into school mode!)

Monday, September 15, 2014

3 months | baby

 

Somehow, my baby is already THREE months old. I know that every mom says that every single month of their child's life, but seriously. How did that happen?

The past several months have been a total blur and I can honestly say that being home with a little baby is the hardest thing I have ever done. I told my husband the other day that while I don't miss work, I do miss how easy those days were. Going into the office, doing my 8 hours, coming home and leaving work at work? SO EASY.

Life with a newborn is challenging. You're exhausted, often feel like a human pacifier if you're breastfeeding, never seem to know what the baby wants, don't really know if you're coming or going most days. It feels like groundhog day and a whirlwind all at once. Plus colic? Terrible. Add in another kiddo to worry about and it's just that much trickier to manage.

Know a pregnant lady or new mom? Or stay/work-at-home mama with littles? Bring her a meal, offer to clean her kitchen/living room/bathrooms, watch her kiddos so she can take a shower or get in a workout or just take a nap. BE KIND. It's tough, tough work.

But also? There are moments it's just the best. Cliche? Maybe. It's true, though, especially when you finally wrangle a toothless smile out of a tiny squishy baby. Or when said baby curls up into you and falls asleep. <3

I haven't done this from the beginning so I'm probably a terrible blogger. However, I figure 3 months is as good a time as any to start recording things, right? Mostly because now I get more than 30 seconds between feedings/diaper changes/fake-out naps.

 

Three Month Stats--

Weight: She was 6lb, 6oz at her 2-month well baby, so hopefully around 8lb now! (Yes, I have a tiny baby, and yes she eats ALL the time.)

Length: 19.5" at her 2-month well baby, so hopefully a little taller now.

Nicknames: Nugget, Bug, Bean

Sleep: nighttime she usually falls asleep between 8:30 and 9 and sleeps until 2:30-4:30, eats, then sleeps again until 5:30-6:30 depending on when she woke up to nurse. Daytime? She barely naps! (Unfortunately.)

Eating: Exclusively breastfed, 8-12 times a day. Will take the occasional bottle from dad or big sis.

Clothing: Newborn! Even with the fluffy butt she gets from cloth diapers.

Mood: Went through what felt like a never-ending bout of colic, but fingers crossed we're over that hump. She "talks" quite a bit, loves to look around, and is mostly happy but stingy with smiles.

Likes: Blowing bubbles, bedtime massages, her "ocean friends" play mat, the swing, baths (usually)

Dislikes: Being left alone, the carrier and boba wrap (hoping she gets over that!), tummy time, things touching her feet (e.g., footie pajamas)

What I want to remember/Milestones: I want to remember the hard (hard) first days, and the breastfeeding struggles, and the complete exhaustion. I want to remember how hilarious it is that she hates tummy time and kicks herself over when we attempt it. I want to remember the first social smile and the first coo. I want to remember her baby smell and her wobbly head as she tries to hold it up. I want to remember how tiny she is right now, and how it felt to hold her the first time when she was like a little baby bird. I want to remember what it was like to introduce her to my family for the first time in person (nothing like it!).

What I'm looking forward to: Really just watching her grow! She has gotten so much bigger since the day we brought her home, and I can't wait to watch her learn all the things she will in this first year. I'm at the point where I would be going back to work if I hadn't decided to quit, and I can't imagine leaving her all day.  I feel so lucky (and know I am) to be able to stay home with her.

Monday, September 8, 2014

currently | september


writing: baby's birth story (still...almost 3 months later..oops!), new blog posts, comment reply emails

anticipating: baby getting onto a schedule, reaching the end of PiYo, getting back into a real fitness routine, figuring out where we will be moving next

missing: pre-pregnancy/baby sleep, ha! (but having a baby is a million times better)

wearing: pre-pregnancy clothes! mostly. my hips are a bit wider, as are my ribs? but getting there slowly. or else going shopping. ;)

craving: nothing and everything! is that weird? i have to eat constantly for breastfeeding, so right now food is more about sustenance than pleasure necessarily.

What's going on in your neck of the woods?

Monday, September 1, 2014

military life + maintaing a resume

One of the things I've found most challenging about being a military spouse is the moving around and, especially, not knowing what kind of jobs will be available at our next base. When we moved to Japan, I gave up a job I adored knowing that there wouldn't be anything comparable available to me here. 

Luckily, I was able to obtain a job within a few months on the base. Unfortunately, however, this position was a major downgrade for me in terms of income, skill, and type of work. Regardless, my boss was great and my coworkers were, too, so I decided to stick it out just to keep up my resume. 

Fast forward to now, home with a brand new baby and deciding to step back from the office (after childcare costs, it's just not worth it). We'll be PCSing (military term for moving) back to the States in just under 9 months, and preparing for that on top of regular mama duty will be a job in itself. 

However, the reality is that I can't simply put "stay at home mom"/"master mover" on my resume. Well, I suppose I could, but future employers probably wouldn't find it amusing (regardless of how demanding it is!). So I am left, yet again, wondering what I can do to keep my resume current while working around the demands of managing a military family.

Enter Webucator--a website offering both live online classes and self-paced courses in subject matter that is perfect for rounding out a resume, whether or not you are currently working. While I have enrolled in free online classes before and enjoyed learning new things, they weren't always necessarily applicable to the type of work I did or want to do in the future. 

I really like that Webucator offers practical courses like Design, Microsoft applications (a special class is offered monthly, SO handy in any office these days), Photoshop, and many more. You can check out all of their self-paced courses here

The best part about Webucator is that they are big supporters of the military, veterans, and their families. They understand the challenges of maintaining a diverse skill set when you are faced with a demanding job, deployed spouses, running a family, and trying to maintain a career track. They also understand that unemployment rates among veterans are too high, with an estimated 200,000 remaining unemployed this year alone. 

In order to help close this gap, they have decided to give back to veterans and active duty families. Webucator is offering FREE access to all of their self-paced courses simply by using the coupon code VETERANS2014. If you are, or know, a military family--active duty or retired--please be sure to pass along this great opportunity. I'll be signing up for some classes ASAP!

Have you tried online learning? Which Webucator class looks most interesting to you? How have you kept up your "employability" while stepping back from the work force? 


(Webucator reached out to me regarding their military family support, and all opinions are my own. No compensation was provided in return for sharing about their services.)

Friday, August 8, 2014

on going back to work

Baby Girl is now 8 weeks old and I am finally starting to feel a bit more "normal"--well, my new normal that is. The babe went through a fussy/clingy phase all last week, but has been totally awesome this week (hence a bit of time for blogging).  I have loved being home with her and have spent a lot of time contemplating whether or not I was going to return to work. 

Before she was born I kept telling people I didn't know if I would come back after she arrived. I did know that it would be impossible to really decide before I met her and got my introduction to parenting a newborn (hello, sleep deprivation!). 

Her premature arrival all but sealed the deal for me. She was so, so tiny--only 4lb 1oz the day we brought her home. There was so much nervousness around her lung development, the heart murmur, the sacral dimple, and the fact that we were now parents of a newborn who seemed much more like a little baby bird than baby person. Surprising to perhaps no one, it is WAY different from being parents to a soon-to-be second grader!

Two weeks ago, when I was visiting  my office for a farewell luncheon, my boss pulled me aside and asked if I was coming back to work. Still, even then, I was on the fence but I think I already knew in my heart what I was going to do (and, if I'm honest, probably before the babe was even born). This week, I gave him final notice that I will not be returning. 

There were a lot of factors that went into the decision:

Money. It's nice getting extra cash in our bank account every month, but what will the true amount be after paying for another kiddo in daycare? If I went back to work full time, daycare costs just for the baby would be over half of a paycheck (a full paycheck for both kiddos). If I went back part-time, daycare would cost the same and end up being more than I actually brought home. 

Time. Working full-time meant 50+ hours away from the baby every week. Our evenings were already packed last school year with homework, housework, trying to squeeze in workouts, and find a few minutes of downtime in the evening. There didn't seem to be any wiggle room for a new baby, too. Obviously, something would have to give. 

Personal fulfillment. A big factor for me was, do I feel fulfilled by my job? Honestly, as my pregnancy progressed, that answer kept leaning more and more toward no. There were a number of things that contributed to this, but the summary of them all were major changes at the office and my job changing in such a way that I simply was not happy anymore. I worked crazy hours at the end of my pregnancy--which my husband is convinced contributed to pre-term labor--and I knew that I could no longer be that person with a new baby. Everyone I work with is great, but the work itself no longer made me feel good. If I'm going to miss out on time as a mama, then the trade off must be worth it. 

Emotions. This was the biggest one for me in the end. When I look at my tiny girl, especially in the beginning, I couldn't imagine anyone else caring for her the way I do. I couldn't bear the thought of leaving her all day every day, then trying to divide attention between her, her sister, my husband, and life in the remaining few hours. Without family nearby, I just didn't feel there was anyone I could trust with her that wouldn't totally break my heart every day.

So, for now, I am shifting gears. After going through my "I've always worked!" existential crisis when I moved to Japan, it's much easier this time around. Priority one for now is trying to be the best mama I can be and enjoying the little moments that I would miss being at the office. The first year is so fascinating, and goes so quickly, and I really want to remember it all. My second priority will be finalizing my grad school plans. I need to study for the GRE and either make time to take it in Tokyo or take it as soon as we get to our next base. I also need to find a program that interests me, will further my career goals and give me more potential opportunities, and is flexible enough to work with our military life. It might be tough, but I know it's possible if I look hard enough. 

I definitely see myself going back to work. Maybe as soon as we leave here, or maybe in a couple years after I focus on school full-time. At the end of the day, this is a season, and one I know will pass all too quickly.

 
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