Wednesday, August 31, 2011

handcrafted life plan - thing 2

Now that I've got my work schedule squared away, and BabyT's summer activities are over (yay!), I've got some time to think about setting some goals and getting some direction in my life.

I've been particularly inspired by Laura, who I went to college with. There's the fact that she manages to blog EVERY DAY, even with a job and twin boys. She's a hugely talented family photographer and has started a business. A while ago, she mentioned taking an online class called Mondo Beyondo, that helps you figure out your big dreams and goals (or even little ones).

I looked it up and thought it sounded interesting, but didn't really feel like I wanted or needed to do that kind of personal exploration. That was during the months where Trillian was most definitely NOT sleeping through the night, and really it was all I could do to get through the day.

But now that I have time, and the aforementioned midlife crisis, and building my Grand Unified Handcrafted Life Plan (tm), it's the perfect opportunity. So I signed up. Class starts Sept 12 and it's all online. It seems like the sort of thing where you get out of it what you put into it, so I'm looking forward to doing some introspection and making this thing work for me.

If you think it might be your kind of thing, you could sign up too - there seems to be space in the class that starts in a couple of weeks. The link below is an affiliate referral thingy so if I get something from you signing up, I'll happily split it with you ;)

Mondo Beyondo Dream Big

I'm excited about this. I don't know much about it, except Laura's endorsement of the class, and some other good reviews online. What I do like is that it seems like I can do this stuff on my own, and don't need to share a ton with others. That's the part I hate most about the "soft skills" type training classes I've taken at work - all the mandatory "sharing" and interacting you're supposed to do with your classmates. Ick.

I look forward to writing a little about what I learn, and what I want to be when I grow up. Watch this space :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

midlife crisis and the beginnings of a handcrafted life plan

The late night I spent blogging about my work dilemma was the peak of the discontent I've been feeling for a couple of months. I didn't really put a name to it until I had lunch with a coworker last week. She used the term 'midlife crisis', something I had previously dismissed as old bald guys buying flashy red sports cars or taking up with much younger women.

But, as it turns out, it's a perfect explanation for the ick that's been ailing me lately.  I've been reading a TON of personal productivity books (my chosen version of self-help, I guess) and don't even really know what I've been looking for in them.  Maybe the magic solution on how to squeeze more time out of my days, be less tired, and DO... what?  I don't know exactly.

And therein lies the problem.  I don't have a focused set of goals.  I really like my job but I'm not climbing the ladder.  It's not going to lead me to riches, though it's certainly keeping us comfortable and well fed. 

I obviously want to be the best mama I can possibly be and am actively working on it, so that's something.  But the house is messy and disorganized, I'm still heavier than I need to be, and we spend a lot of money on stuff that doesn't matter.

One of my new coworkers is extremely goal-oriented in his personal life (specifically we've been discussing financial goals, but he's thought about all areas of his life).  I'm intrigued by this, and the project management side of me knows that if I can articulate my goals, I will have no trouble figuring out the steps to achieve them.  TJ and I have talked about this briefly but are way too busy right now to really sit down and figure out our "life goals".  But I put the bug in his ear, so we're both ruminating on it in a background process.

We have some breathing room now, as BabyT turns 2 very soon.  She is delightful, sleeps through the night, can tell us what she needs (mostly), so I have time (and energy!) to think about what I want out of life.

So I took care of the first thing on my list today to make progress on handcrafting a life plan for myself.  I nervously asked my bosses to reduce my schedule from 30 hours per week to 20.  I didn't want to sound like a flake - after all, I've only been on the team for 2 months now, and I'm still ramping up.  I also REALLY enjoy the team and the work. 

But 30 hours is just WAY too hard with only 2 days of childcare.  More childcare is not a solution we really wanted to explore as it's directly in conflict with 'spend as much time with BabyT as possible'.  I thought I'd limp along until December and then do something.  But I reached my breaking point with a very stressful couple of weeks and decided I needed to start the conversation now.

And wow, the things I've been able to get just because I asked - a part-time schedule in a full-time+ tech company.  2 days a week in the office.  A lock on my office door so I could pump there instead of schlepping everything to the new mothers' room.  And today, immediate verbal agreement on a 20 hour/week schedule, plus my managers telling me they'd look for ways to help me be successful.  Yowza. 

So I leave you with this video of our CEO that pretty much sums up how I feel about the company I've been with for 8 years now.  Enjoy ;)

Monday, August 29, 2011

You are the only one I see

Alone In This Together

I worshipped at the Church of Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs Saturday night at the Triple Door in Seattle. As you already know, the Triple Door is my favorite place to see a show. I've seen Vienna Teng there many times, and the last time we saw Star Anna there I was HUGELY pregnant.  Feels like a lifetime away.

I thought about writing an actual review of the show, but I didn't take any notes, don't remember the exact setlist, and really, that's just not my style. So instead I'll just capture some of my thoughts about the show, which was probably my favorite of all of theirs that I've seen. Um, except for the time they played in our living room.

If I had seen Ty Bailie (piano/organ guy) play when I was a kid taking piano lessons, I would have practiced more and probably would still be playing now.  Not only is he really, really good, but he looks like he's having a great time doing it.

You know it's a good show when the songs are running through your head when you wake up in the middle of the night.  Kind of like when you drink too much and you wake up still drunk, only without the bad hangover part ;)

The Triple Door was PACKED.  I think these guys are going to become huge rock stars and we'll get to be those annoying people who say "oh yeah, I knew who they were back in 2008 and they played in the local clubs". 

We are officially OLD.  We discussed this with our friends Hans and Doyle who saw the show with us.  Sitting in a nice booth, with our fancy drinks and Wild Ginger food is far better than standing for 3 hours in a grungy bar, hoping that the drunk guy nearby doesn't spill his beer on you.

My favorite song of the night was their last one - "High Water" from the new album.  Their performance was just so full of awesome that I can't find the words to describe it.  I've managed to brainwash BabyT and she likes that song in particular, so yesterday we listened to "High Water" on repeat for the entire 20 minute drive to my parent's place.  Every time it ended, she'd say "Mama, High Water again."  And you know I don't like to disappoint her...  It's a good one for singing along.  Just don't pay too close attention to how sad the lyrics are.

So, despite the fact that we've had a couple of weeks that have been so busy that I've had my own personal toddler-style meltdown, this was a bright shining evening that fed my soul for the weeks to come.  And I can't wait to see them again.

Friday, August 26, 2011

the hills of Iowa make me wish that I could

Rock Branch Farm - 1880
(Photo taken by TumblingRun on Flickr)

We just returned from a family trip to Iowa.   I'll admit that Iowa is a state I hadn't given much thought to.  I've never driven through it on any of my cross country trips, nor have I ever had even an airport layover there.  I figured it would be hot, flat, and full of corn.  Friends of mine moved there several years ago from Seattle, and I didn't really understand it.

But now I get it.  It's a really pretty state.  We drove from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids and saw a lot of corn, of course, but the land was so pretty and green  It's not like Seattle where buildings and streets and new subdivisions are crammed into tiny spaces.  There are lots of trees and hills, so not nearly as flat as I expected.

I will admit that our restaurant experiences were not so great - a lot of pan-fried, deep-fried and more fried stuff made me CRAVE fresh vegetables by the end of our trip.  Though I did learn that a 'tenderloin' there is a battered, deep-fried piece of pork on a bun.

But the rundown looking Hy-Vee grocery store near our hotel had a HUGE organic/natural foods section rivaling any respectable Seattle grocery and had several different brands of soy milk including T's favorite Soy Dream.  In fact, they had the soy yogurt and soy cheese I have to go to Whole Foods to get here in Redmond.  And even more shocking were the prices.  A 1 pound box of Barilla pasta was $1.50.  I'm pretty sure we pay close to $3 for it in Seattle.   A pound of *organic* grapes was $2 (!).  Zoiks.

And I figured that I'd get a lot of leery looks of the "you ain't from around here" type that were pretty frequent when I was working in Butte, MT.   But no!  There were brown people everywhere and more than a few mixed-race couples with kids.  There were other Asians, too.  Not *quite* as diverse as Seattle, but not nearly as far off as I expected.

So, if I were performance reviewing our trip, I'd say it "exceeded expectations".  We had fun with family, T got some grandparent and auntie-time, and my misconceptions about the state of Iowa melted away quicker than soy cheese in a quesadilla.  We could have done without T's vomiting incident on the plane, likely brought on by the Denver airport Mesa Verde Grill totally disregarding our allergy questions/instructions.  (Another time I was glad T's reaction to dairy is likely not anaphylactic.)

It also turns out I have a bunch of people in my Facebook friends list that have some connection to Iowa - family is from there, they were born there, used to live there, etc.  Who knew?

Our friends in Des Moines live close to a brand new huge shopping area that reminds me a lot of the ones you see in Phoenix.  It has a Trader Joe's and I'm pretty sure I saw a Starbucks.  And it turns out Microsoft is building a datacenter nearby.  Us living in Iowa?  Never say never...

Friday, August 12, 2011

If I go there will be trouble

At work, we have an internal website where you can post parenting questions anonymously and get advice from equally anonymous coworkers. Lately there seem to be a rash of "should I quit my job and stay home with my kids" posts - maybe because annual performance review time, and that's when people take stock of what they're doing.

A friend at work sent a link to the excellent Seattle Mama Doc blog, where she addresses her struggles with her decision to be a working mom. This is a topic close to my heart, even with my fabulous part time work schedule.  I don't blog about it, for fear of appearing like I'm less than committed to my job and not being a good worker bee.  But I've been living with this *ick* in my heart since I went back to work after maternity leave last year and the decision is still not any clearer one way or the other.

I am a ridiculously poor multi-tasker.  When I have too many things going on, I just.can'  My stress level goes up, and I start wigging out.   The solution sounds simple, right?  I just need to eliminate the non-essential activities.  The problem is that I go through cycles where I feel like I can take on the world, and I sign myself and T (and sometimes TJ) up for everything under the sun that sounds neat or enriching or (danger!) crafty.

So there are days where I wonder whether it would be better to quit working while T is little.  One less thing to juggle.  No more "Trillian sad mama working".  Her exact words, I kid you not.  I could be at the zoo with my peeps instead of at work on a Sunday afternoon.   Tuesday and Thursday evenings wouldn't look like:
  • Sit in traffic for 30 min
  • Pick up baby & baby's stuff from daycare
  • Sit in traffic for 20 min
  • Get T milk/feed starving, whiny, unloved dogs/prep dinner for T
  • Get T to eat and  in bed before we miss the sleep window
I realize that there are people who deal with this 5 nights a week, but wow, that would just make my head explode.  From the minute I leave work until T is in bed and the baby monitor is quiet feels like a race against the clock.

It's not as easy for me as "leaving work at work" because my arrangement stipulates that I need to put in another day and a half worth of work from home sometime during the week.  I'm lucky that it's flexible, so it doesn't have to be during working hours, but that means I'm spending T's naptime, nights and weekends fitting in that work.

It doesn't seem like I should complain.  I mean, I have a DREAM work schedule.  What tech company would let someone only work in the office 2 days a week?  Hardly any tech companies even have the concept of part-time work, let alone challenging work at my level in my field.   On a team that really, truly does respect work-life balance.

And when T is in kindergarten, the part-time gig will be exactly what I need.  But that tiny voice in my head says "that's 3+ years from now, and anything could happen between now and then".  Maybe my company will decide not to support part time work anymore.  Maybe we'll have another 3 babies by then (just kidding!).  And I've never been one to do something now because I *might* regret it later if I don't.

And of course there's the money.  I want my baby to go to the best school we can find, and that will likely be private school.  I like craft supplies (though lord knows I don't need to buy any more!).  At some point we might like to go on a vacation that involves an airplane and fruity drinks with umbrellas.  And all that boring stuff like 401k, employee stock purchase, and my unvested stock that means we won't have to work until we're 90.

On the flip side, I wouldn't be bored at home.  I already have more activities and learning stuff I want to do with her than I can fit into our weeks.  We have friends we haven't seen in weeks because somehow our off-day schedules fill up quicker than imaginable. 

I don't have career aspirations to be a VP.  My goal has always been to do work I like, with people who are cool, for decent money.  Check. Check. Check.

Therein lies the problem. I don't have a clear path on what to do.  And while I'm unsure, it would be stupid to quit.  Something that bold needs to be backed with sheer, radiating confidence.  Sigh.

Internets, tell me what to do.  Just kidding.  But tell me what you're doing, and why. 

(Oh and yes, I realize this is upper-middle-class navel gazing, the likes of which 99.9% of the world cannot indulge in.  I know I'm lucky.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I love you doggy

So, um, yeah.  Here I am back at Blogger.  My fancy hosted Wordpress blog was more trouble than it was worth, and I posted less than 10 times since switching over.

In an effort to save some money, I’m coming back to Blogger, and ditching the custom domain name.  I’m still keeping so maybe I’ll find a way to link this blog to that domain.  Or something.

I’ve spent the past two days redoing this blog and papercraftlab.  I’ve got some design work to do still (or need to buy graphics somewhere), but it’s well enough along that I’ve transferred the domain names from my sketchy host to one who is hopefully more reputable and not blocked by my company’s firewall.  Grrr. 

Life is good.  Busy, but good.  BabyT is nearly two, which blows my mind.  She speaks in sentences.  She can count to 10 sometimes.  She WALKS!  It took her 19.75 months, but now she’s unstoppable.  Well, except for the fact that she’s super cautious like her mama, so she never moves THAT fast.  We are having SO much fun. 

This photo is from the day we played our first board game.  It’s an alphabet game, and has complicated rules with a spinner, and animal/letter cards.  Creath Family rules are just to pick a card, and move your piece to the right letter.  BabyT is great with capital letters, and is learning lowercase ones now.  She LOVES her ‘abcd game’, in that endearingly obsessive toddler way. 150

I’m still working part-time and started a new job within the same company in June.  It’s the kind of job I love – project management, and some internal processes to wrangle.  But it is SO much work to ramp up in a new role when I had been doing the same job for 3 years before that.  I’m still working out the schedule and time management.

I’m hoping to get more time to blog.  I realize that it’s been great for capturing the small moments – stuff I’d ordinarily forget, but when I go back and read it, I’m transported to that time.  I’ve had this blog for 6 years, just a little longer than TJ and I have been married.  Now THAT is just crazy talk.

So, is anyone still out there?

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