Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Leap in February? Goals Report

I hope everyone is enjoying their extra day today. I never thought about it before but why February? Why not June or July? It's a dreary, rainy DC day and I'd much rather get my extra day on a sunny warm summer one.

So today, I spent my nap times reviewing my Employable and Enjoyable Action Items from February. I really worked hard to rectify my scores after last months "not-so-hot" report.

So here is the outcome for my Employable Action Items.

Attend a networking event.

Attend a community/town meeting.
FAIL. I really thought this one would work out too! I had put four different town meetings in my calendar but each time something came up (like volunteering) and I was like, "oh well, I've got three/two/one other to still go to" and I just put it off. Then when the last one came around I was busy getting ready for our trip. Lesson: don't wait until the last minute.

Learn a new blog skill.
SUCCESS. Boy, have I been busy on this one! I even wrote this post about some of the cool things I learned. I also learned how to use google analytics and stop it from tracking my own pageviews (a ridiculously time consuming feat until I discovered this. I swear I tried all the other ways first and it didn't work!) I signed up to be part of some blog directories like Technorati, and Blogher. I figured out RSS feeds, how to add customized buttons, dallied in CSS, messed around with my template, played around with blogrolls, started a weekly segment, and I bought my domain! Lastly, I reflected about how I think blogging will help my career and posted it for the Brazen Careerist's February Run Around. A lot of these things you can now see around my blog - so how did I do?

Volunteer somewhere new.
SUCCESS. This past month I volunteered at a local food rescue farmer's market distributing fruits and veggies to families in need. I've been a strong supporter of food rescue (redistributing day-old products that stores would otherwise be trashed) since I was in high school and college, and used to complete weekly rescue missions. It was nice to see the distribution side of things and it was great to get to know more about my local community. 

Take a class.

Read a new employable book.
FAIL. I did get the book from the library...but you're just going to have to wait until next month for me to let you know how it went.

AND my Enjoyable Action Items:

Read an enjoyable book.
This month my husband and I read the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Get your own love languages profile for married couples, kids, singles, parents of teens, everybody: here.

Try a new recipe.
Your probably lucky that I don't have pictures because while it was very tasty (even baby loved it - spices and all!) it didn't turn out this pretty. 

Take baby to a new place.

SUCCESS. Check out this post about baby's first museum trip.

Organize a part of my house.

Complete a home project.
FAIL. Although my husband and I finally decided to put a time stamp on updating our bed set. 

Have a night out.
FAIL. I had two potential nights planned, but alas, travel and life got in the way.

Ok, so just to's not all bad, but I do have a ways to go. I said I worked hard on what I missed last time, and they are all YAYs! But I'm going to have to spend a little more time planning (and less time procrastinating) in order to get some of these things done. In reality, if I had read a little less Us Weekly, I could have gotten those books read and if I had just committed to one night for my town meeting, I would have not left it until the last minute.

I'm looking forward to a fresh start in March.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Perspective: Poop Wake Up

I typically try to keep my topics somewhat related to employability or enjoyable things to do while your not working. However, sometimes in my delirium, I just have to share my current musings of what I'm immersed in at the moment, which is pooping and sleeping, both at the same time too. You may be surprised, but this isn't my first post about pooping. However, I'll forgo the pictures for this post.

It's almost 10am and I've been sitting in our dark hotel room since 6am. (We're on vacation.) I'm EXHAUSTED and the blackout curtains are making it feel like it's midnight. All I want to do is take a nap.

Baby is still sleeping. He got up at 6am like usual, but TWO poops woke him up again between 6:30 and 8:00. I always wonder, is that (waking up because you poop while your asleep) normal? My child cannot be the only one that does this right? To me, it seems like a difficult thing to accomplish.

I tried to google about it and searched "pooping while sleeping" and apparently, it's more common than I I had to preface it with "baby." I actually found this random thread that had a survey about the topic, (who would have thought?) Apparently, I am supremely in the minority, although, not in the group of babies that intentionally poop to get out of napping. That's extreme.

So I guess I don't have it that bad. Ah, perspective.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is There a Perfect Solution Out There?

Car seats are outrageous - so many kinds, so many rules, so many features; so overwhelming! I've been to four stores in the three days, I've looked online, and I even checked out Craigslist, all in search of the perfect car seat solution.

My problem is that my son is at the breaking point of his Chicco Keyfit, (22 pounds) and I can't figure out what to put him in next. Since he's only 9 months, we still have to keep him in a rear facing seat, which is safer and preferred by us, but they are HUGE and we can barely find one that fits comfortably in our car. You can't even see around the clunkers (even with the mirror) and since my son is going through a bit of a separation anxiety phase, that makes for a long ride.

Maybe my expectations are too high in what I want in a seat - safe, good weight capacity, fits in our car, and the ability to see my child in the mirror from the front; but I don't think so. Our car, a VW Sportwagon, is not that small! Plus, what do people in smaller cars use???

After my last unsuccessful trip to BBRUS, I finally started asking around. I got a few good suggestions that aren't on display at BBRUS:  Maxi-Cosi, Peg Perego, Recaro, and finally I just happened to ask a woman what she uses in her Toyota: a Sunshine Kids/Diono. We tried them all out, but the Sunshine Kids/Diono (Diono is the new name) was the winner.

Can't beat that.
When we tried it out, (with some minor adjustment to the passenger seat) it fit fabulously, I could see him from the front and he's actually really happy in it because he can now see out the window (yay for built in entertainment!) Yesterday, when we hit the road for what turned out to be an ELEVEN HOUR drive to DC, it literally stood the test of time: we had not one meltdown on the road. It's also upright enough that I felt comfortable doing a solid feed while we were underway.

I know there isn't always a "perfect" solution out there for every problem, but there is a solution that will solve your problem perfectly enough. In this situation, it was worth the extra time and effort to find this winner. It's not one of the "famous" brands, but when did famous equate to quality? When it comes to baby products, I feel so pressured to jump into these "popular" products and in so many of the instances that we have, they turn out to be a huge let down. Just like when we searched for a stroller, we had to find the product that was right for us.


Friday, February 24, 2012

I Want a Segment! (The Birth of Mom Moments)

Since I've started following blogs, I've noticed how a bunch of them have these weekly/monthly little segments that are always on the same topic or on the same day of the week, like this one, this one, this one, and this one - and I like it!

So I think I'm going to have a nice little weekly recap segment, called Mom Moments, that will basically just highlight a selection of my favorite (employable AND prob mostly enjoyable) moments from the week.

This week's pics happen to have a theme: mischief.

1. At church on Sunday, my husband noticed a little boy drawing on the offering envelopes during mass. As we were leaving I snapped this pic of one of his drawings that he left in the pew because I just thought it was so cute and innocent. I LOVE little kid drawings and can't wait for our son to start producing his own.

2. After my son wakes up from a nap I usually give him about fifteen minutes before I go in and get him, sometimes he goes back to sleep, but usually he plays for a little while I finish up what I am doing. So I was in the basement switching out some laundry and all of a sudden, through the monitor and through the floor I started hearing some successive loud bangs. When I looked at the monitor I could only see baby's feet and so I literally freaked and ran up the stairs because I had NO IDEA what was going on. Turns out he managed to scoot himself up the crib to the bookshelf and started pulling books off of the shelf. He got 7.

3. I was pureeing something in the kitchen and baby was just not having it; if he couldn't see me, he was crying, except for when the dog walked by. Quick little me decided to keep the dog busy in the room with a toy and wa-la, built in baby entertainment. I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner.

4. Someone has become a super roller! Baby was playing with the little green toy on the right, facing it, and literally two seconds later...trying to pull some cushions off the couch. I think I need to start thinking about baby proofing.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Gets Me Through The Day

A few days ago, when my son woke up at 6am (for his normal morning feed) I was EXHAUSTED. (Most likely because when he started stirring at 3am and 5am, I started stirring too.)

Normally, for me, getting up at 6am is a blessing: I have some coffee, eat a full-on breakfast (my favorite meal of the day,) shower, blog, read, and make my list of to-dos for the day. I just enjoy the 1-2 hours I get by myself before the house starts buzzing. I love LOVE LOVE morning quiet time and it truly is essential for me to have a productive day.

How do I know this? Because on that "few days ago," when "I was EXHAUSTED," I went back to bed instead.

Going back to bed means that after I lay down, it may/may not take me 20 minutes to fall back asleep, and then the amount of sleep I get depends on how my son is feeling that day. Sometimes he sleeps for an hour, sometimes two, but regardless of length, I am jolted awake by the sounds of him scream-playing in his crib (it's a happy noise, albeit a loud one.) I have some time while he entertains himself: go to the bathroom or start some coffee, etc, but I don't have time for breakfast and since it's at least another 30 min before I can get to that, I can easily turn into a grumpus.

Once I get him changed, nursed, dressed, and ready for a solid meal, he is out of happy-baby zone and into I-need-to-see-mommy-at-all-times zone, which pretty much locks down all functional movement. No matter when he wakes, he's ready to be back down at ten - great for days he wakes at 8:45am, bad for days he's up at 7am. He also only naps until noon, exactly two hours, regardless of when he falls asleep, so it's crucial to have him down by ten.

A few days ago, when I decided it was a "good" idea to go back to bed - he woke at 7:30, which gave me little/no extra sleep, and left me feeling like a train wreck (even more EXHAUSTED then before.) When he FINALLY went down for his nap at ten, he woke up like fifteen minutes later (he pooped,) then didn't go back down until almost 11am and was up 45 min later. Since I hadn't showered, (I chose breakfast,) it became pretty apparent that we would not be leaving the house on this day, (it also started snowing, so definite NO.) 

We then got to spend THREE hours in the house, him a little cranky, me still in my pjs, trying to stay entertained. I didn't have my to-do list made, so I just kind of cleaned aimlessly, and tried to come up with more things for him to do until it was time for the next nap. By nap two, it's almost three and I'm just running on fumes. I could take a nap too...but I.MUST.RESIST. - it really messes up my sleep if I take a nap, plus I'm loosing productive time! I try to work on a post, get distracted, check email, get distracted, read an article, get distracted. It's about 4:30pm, my husband is on his way home, I need to start thinking about dinner, and the day is basically over. GAME OVER: mission failed.

The difference (for me) really is waking up early and having time to prepare myself for the day, exactly like I used to do when I was working full time. If I had woken up to a screaming alarm five minutes before I had to be at work, well, the day would have gone equally as bad. Today, I had some of the exact same things happen during the course of my day: I started stirring at 3am, baby didn't catch his first nap because he woke himself up by pooping, and when we were going to head out for some errands it started to flurry/rain. However, it didn't rattle me this time: I made some purees, finished my packing list for our trip, etc; overall, it was pretty productive. Even after all the other crazy things happened and I was EXHAUSTED it was the getting up early that was the neutralizer.


P.S. - I'd love to know: do you have a neutralizer? If so, what is it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Does This Say About Us?

I was listening to a story on NPR the other day, (I tried to find the story but could not figure out what it was) all I remember is that the guy who was being interviewed was an academic who was using google for social research. You know how when you are at the google search box and you type in a question and it starts to auto populate

From this he might conclude that we are cat loving, man hating, and exhausted. (The iron was from my search history - good to know.
What will we do without Regis!? lol
Well, I believe his research was about stereotypes but the researcher was basically inferring things about our population based on the results. What does this say about us?

Now to my point, I happened to be googling around and happened to find this Employability Checkup Report from the Department of Labor. I found it to be interesting. It takes your education and wage info and combines it with your location, job, and industry to give you a little report on your employability per the economy in your area.

The results, were interesting; I'm not sure I agree with everything. The local unemployment rate, while it is lower than the national, is only like half a percentage point lower, I don't think that counts. In our area, my education level is about average, and so I wouldn't say that counts either. Based on just their numbers, my employability is about 50%.

I decided to test it out where we used to live in DC and was kind of surprised to get the same thing. There were also some conflicts: local unemployment is low and state unemployment is high!? When I selected DC the "local" and the "DC" were one in the same (it's not that big!)

Regardless, I found the tool interesting, and although somewhat inaccurate, of possible use to career switchers or people who are moving. I would most certainly take everything with a grain of salt because...this doesn't really give you the whole perspective.

One last thing, I found these numbers on my state's job bank website: the jobs to resumes number is pretty sad (assuming the resumes are active seekers.) Our state's unemployment is pretty bad and while it doesn't entirely apply to me at this exact moment, it's enough to keep me motivated to stay on my toes.


P.S. - Thoughts? Find anything interesting in the google autofill?