Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Working 9 to 5

Or 8 to 4, in my case. Lately I’ve been thinking about my job and the work I do and why I’ve chosen this path versus another more exciting or perhaps lucrative career. Part of this was inspired by Pseudostoops’ pondering about her recent job change and what it has meant for her and her family and the other part because our recent childcare woes caused us to really dig deep down and evaluate the importance of me working.

When you’re young and inexperienced you look for a job that pays the bills, allows you to have fun on the side and perhaps one that has the potential to grow into a more stable career over time. I started with my company in 2004 when I was just 22 years old. It was a young trust company that needed an administrative assistant and I was less than a year out of college without any real idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I was organized, detail-oriented and fit the job description if a little over-qualified with a business degree from a respected university. However I was living in the big city and needed a job to pay rent and put money in the bank. Those martinis weren’t paying for themselves and most of the 22 year old guys we were hanging out with rarely understood the importance of buying a woman a drink (I hope they’ve since seen the light).

From 2004-2006, I saw my company through a quick growth period and myself move from an administrative assistant to a trust associate responsible (with a mentor) for the administration of client accounts. But it was still just a job. By this time I had met Tim and was planning our wedding during most of my work days while zooming through my usual work load. Priorities, you know. I invited my entire office at the time, all 8 of them, to our wedding and one still talks about the delicious lamb chops we served as an appetizer. He’s one of my favorites.

From 2006-2008, my company saw me through newlywed-ville, buying our first house and then pregnancy. They ooooohed and aaahhhhed over my growing belly, threw me a wonderful baby shower, and understood when I said I wanted to stay home and raise my baby. They were sad to see me go and told me to come back and visit with the baby any time. They meant it and I did. I spent two years at home with Noah and those are some of the best years of my life. But then we all know what happened in 2008…the economy tanked and my poor husband spent the next three years struggling to make his technology business successful while I worried and fretted and blogged (go ahead, go back and see how much better I was at posting often. As you do when you have one cute baby and nothing else to do with your time.)

By June of 2010 I knew it was time for me to go back to work; partly because I missed working but mostly out of necessity for a steady paycheck and cheaper health insurance. Going back was a one of the most difficult and adult decisions I (we) have ever made. I knew what I was giving up: time with my son, time watching him grow and learn and turn into a little boy. It broke my heart but we found him a wonderful preschool center that, to this day, has cared for him better than anyone else. He’s thrived there and I am eternally grateful to them for making our lives as dual working parents easier.

When I approached my former boss for a recommendation or referral during my job search he offered me my job back on the spot. I was flabbergasted and very flattered. I accepted, asked for more money (as you do) and started within the month. I’ve been back ever since. Over the past two years I’ve earned myself a decent raise, a promotion and the support of management to keep growing in my role with the hope that I can one day be sitting in their cushy seats. The trust business is a dry, ancient business built on the law and tax code. It’s not (usually) exciting or all that thrilling. We don’t reinvent the law, we don’t hop on the latest technology bandwagon, we don’t have break rooms with ping pong tables or on-site laundry or Google-caliber guest speakers. But what I have recently come to find is that we do have good values. You see, I work for a company that values family above all else. When I needed it the most, my company pulled through for me and has supported me tremendously.

We recently had to pull Chloe from her daycare due to concerns about her safety and well-being (and that is saying it VERY nicely). It’s been a really terrible experience and one I do not wish to ever relive. All that matters is that she’s fine, we’re fine, and we’ll be fine at the end of this disaster. Through this entire experience my company has supported me. They have allowed me (PAID!) time off to be with my daughter, with my family. They didn’t expect me to be available by email or phone. They left me alone. I needed that time and I appreciate it immensely. We now have a better care plan in place for our kids. We can move forward without worrying about how we’re going to pay the bills or where my standing is having missed weeks of work.

When I sit back and think about changing jobs or what my company lacks in the 2012 marketplace (hello gourmet lunches and chair massages) I remind myself about what we do have. We have people that pull strings to make sure their employees are taken care of. We have people who send kind notes of encouragement when others have hit rough spots. We have people who understand that family comes first no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. I don’t need all those perks that some companies throw at their employees to keep them happy. I don’t need a company that is innovating and revolutionizing. I don’t need ridiculous bonuses earned for working equally ridiculous hours. I just need the understanding that I am first a mother and second an employee. They get that so they get me…hopefully for the long run. I know I’m lucky to have landed here and I appreciate that they appreciate me. 

What about you? Are you happy with your job? (and hey SAHMS! this includes YOU...taking care of your kids is one of the hardest jobs out there) What do you do (if you can share)?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A little of this, a little of that

I know it's so annoying when bloggers say "I have something going on but it's unbloggable" but...I have something going on that is completely unbloggable and it SUCKS and is AWFUL and I am a ball of anxiety. No, no one is dying, no jobs have been lost, nothing irreversible but a major life issue nonetheless. I most likely won't be able to talk about it in this space due to the nature of the "issue" but please send any positive, happy thoughts my way if you have some to spare.

(My Indian Hawk Guide didn't tell me this crap was on its way. I'm putting in for a new Guide, perhaps one of the Eagle variety.)

Gah. Anyhow. Moving on. Baby updates! Chloe is thisclose to sitting up on her own. Perhaps I should save that mile marker for her 6 month post but it's just too exciting to not share. We've been spending some more time together as a result of That Issue Mentioned Up There so we've been practicing her new tricks. I just want to eat her up and smooch her cheeks every chance I get.


What's up with the awesome weather, Chicago? I fear there will be snow in May. I refuse to pack away the snow boots even though it is currently SEVENTY-SEVEN degrees outside and I am sweating in my house. Is The End coming? Should I be prepared?


Tim and I just finished planning our monthly budget for this year and holy spendslot. On one hand it was a good exercise because it opened my eyes to just how much we fritter away on random shopping trips and eating out. I'm not renewing our Costco membership because each trip cost me $200. COME ON. I'm avoiding Target like the plague and ordering any disposable goods online. For example, I went to Target to buy diapers today (with coupons no less!) and left with diapers, two summer outfits for Chloe, two outfits for Noah, random crap from the Dollar Spot, a new wrinkle cream for me and pots for summer plantings. The only thing I needed on that list was diapers. Sigh. It looks like April and May will be our No Spend Months. Now I know why I complain about not having money...Target and Starbucks ate it all. 

Me: Noah, what's your letter of the week?
Noah: W!
Me: What's a word that starts with W?
Noah: Wine!
Me: Whine? Like what you do before bath?
Noah: No! Wine! Like what you drink in your fancy glass!
Me: Errrrrr...
Noah: Can I have some?
Me: NO. 

Annnddddd, goodnight!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chloe, Five Months

Hi! I'm Chloe! I am the happiest baby ever in the whole entire universe, lookatmeIsmileallthetime!!!

I think I've said this every month since she actually learned how to smile but this girl really does smile/laugh/screech in happiness all day long. The only time she fusses is when she is Hungry Like The Wolf or completely exhausted. Speaking of hungry, look who started solids this month:

The girl loves herself some food. She headbutted me out of the way to get to my toast last Sunday and it was all I could do to keep her away from it. I did let her gnaw on a banana and my First Time Mom-self is wringing her hands with worry while this Second Time Mom-self is all "here! have some food! you want some soup?" I've been much more lax about waiting three to five days between new foods and she's lucky I haven't just shot ahead to the fruit/veggie mixes. We've only given her dinner thus far but I'm pretty sure the death stares she's shooting me at 7 am mean she's looking for breakfast too. I figure at the rate we're going she'll have tried every baby food option by 7 months and have moved on to mac and cheese with a side of broccoli. 

Did you take my food? You better not have touched it. Where IS IT?

As noted in this post, Chloe is definitely NOT sleeping through the night. In fact, she's up more than ever right now. We have had ONE sleep through and that was Christmas night which made it a true Christmas miracle. We have seen nothing but wake up after wake up since then. Depending on the day I may say "eh, whatever, she'll EVENTUALLY sleep through the night, no big deal!" or you may get "I am losing my ever-loving mind to sleep deprivation, she refuses a bottle in the middle of the night, looks at Tim like he's CRAZY to try to give one to her when all she wants is boob and did I just put my keys in the freezer?" What I'm saying is some days are better than others and I'm really sleepy.

Chloe's newest trick is more consistently rolling from tummy to back though she refuses to do so when encouraged and once you turn your back she's all about it. She is also really into sitting up but can't hold the pose for more than a couple seconds before timber-ing to the floor. She earned herself a nice goose egg on her head from a wayward fall. 

Not to worry, the next try I used her brother as a prop:

And another repeated theme in Month Five is how much this girl LOVES her brother. She gets all googly eyed when he comes around and can't help but try to grab for his hair or face. I'm not sure he loves the baby talons scraping him every time but he's a good sport. 

Chloe, Month Five is one of my very favorites because of all the new and wondrous things you will learn. From here on out you are going to gain skills at breakneck speed and it will be all we can do to keep up with you. I love you to pieces my little doodlebug. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

If I was religious it would have been Hallelujah all over the place

I have many things rattling around in my brain space. Things like an overdue five month post for Chloe, pictures to upload and edit, a monthly meal plan that I want to try out to attempt to make dinner-time easier, discussing a new volunteering thingy I've recently started and very much enjoy. But instead I am going to steal ten minutes from my work day and tell you about the strangest thing ever.

It begins with last February, as in a year ago. Without getting into all the horrific details we had had a rough couple of years in the self-employment sphere and Tim was putting feelers out there for a salaried position. This decision was really hard for him to make and he wasn't sure it was the right thing to do. One afternoon during this time of major deliberation, as he was pulling the car into the alley behind our house, he happened to look up and saw a HAWK perched on top of our neighbor's fence. The hawk was just staring Tim down and Tim was taken aback by it. By the time Tim pulled into our garage and walked back to the alley to check it out, the hawk was gone. I haven't done any research but my guess is that it's not all that common to spot a giant hawk in the middle of this big city. Let alone a giant hawk chilling on your fence.

The next day he was offered a lucrative, salaried position with a former client of his, precisely when we desperately needed it to happen. Tim credited his "Indian Hawk Guide" and considered him a sign of good things to come.

Fast forward to this past Wednesday. I was getting Noah unbuckled and out of the car so we could pick up Chloe at her sitter's house. As I turned around I happened to look up and saw a HAWK sitting on a condo balcony across the alley. And, yes, he was staring right at me. What made me look up and behind me? I had no reason to do so but I did and he was there. Just watching me. I immediately called Tim and our conversation went like this:

Me: HAWK! SPOTTING! What the...???
Tim: Shut up. What color is he?
Me: Gray and brown. And BIG.
Tim: That's MY hawk! You know this is totally a sign...
Me: Of what?
Tim: Dunno.
Me: Thank you for your insight.

I'm sure he then ended the conversation with some ridiculous comment like "Patience, little one" and then I hung up on him. Anyhow. I gave the hawk a stare right back and went inside to pick up the baby. By the time we got back out, the hawk was gone. Poof, vanished.

Then today happened. Today we received final confirmation that Noah got a coveted spot in the (FREE!!!) preschool at our neighborhood school for this coming fall. We needed that spot so badly and it happened. I also found out that I got the raise I asked for as well as a bonus above and beyond what I had expected. We needed that so badly too and it happened. I'm really grateful for today.

I'm also really grateful for our Indian Hawk Guide who clearly shows up right when we need him to. Both times we spotted him we had good fortune come our way. Now if only he showed up the next time (only time?) I play lotto. Mama could use a HUGE windfall.