Saturday, September 28, 2013

On Working

When I last wrote about work, I said I was leaving my role with ReNEW Charter Schools to do more freelance work with the goal of having a truly flexible schedule.  But soon thereafter, I started working on some projects at ReNEW that helped me envision how my role could morph into one that might actually be a fit for part time work (something I'd struggled with up to that point.)  I was part of ReNEW's founding team in 2010 and served as the Director of Literacy, but as we grew from two to four campuses, it felt impossible to do the role justice and work part time. 

Two of my favorite parts of working with ReNEW are the people and the level of trust and autonomy I've always been given.  So when I was asked to stay on in a more defined, part-time role, I said yes and I've been really happy with my decision.  I manage an outside grant and an internal budget to build a strong foundation for literacy instruction at our school (leading to my new title: Director of Literacy Foundations).  I jokingly say I now traffic in books :)  I manage our librarians, helped us upgrade to a new library software, work with our curriculum team to integrate texts into all subject areas, run reading incentive programs, and get to buy lots of books.  I'm so much happier now that I have a work load that is closer to fitting into my work hours (an agreed upon 20 hour target).

So in my fourth year of working as a mother, I finally can say that I feel like I'm in an ideal situation.  I've always worked a version of part time, but it's always felt like I was trying to both work and be at home and the balance was never quite right.  There are now five things in place that make the levels feel right:
  1. I have TWO, YOUNG children and really need some time that is my own where I can be productive.  Working in a job that I like allows me to be productive and have some separation and distinction for myself.
  2. Cora is beyond her first year.  It was really hard for me to leave both Jack and Cora when they were babies.  
  3. We've found good childcare.  We continue to love the Waldorf School for Jack.  Two of my three work days, Cora is at a school and she is thriving.  She's having fun in a setting that I'm happy with, so I feel relaxed about leaving her.  For the third day, we have found a great sitter.
  4. I'm doing something I believe in.  There is SO MUCH that needs to happen in our public education system and a lot to have doubts over.  As Jack gets older, I think a lot about what I will want for him in his education.  What I'm spending my time at work doing aligns with what I'd want my child to have access to, namely an environment that encourages reading at every turn.
  5. A schedule that, if not entirely sustainable and perfect, has lots of perks.  It is a little ridiculous how complicated our childcare schedule is, but I wanted to minimize my time away and preserve some 1:1 time with both Jack and Cora each week.  The 1:1 time has been working nicely. It's practical in that I can schedule doctor's appointments and hair appointments with just the child in question to take.  And it's also special for reasons easy to imagine.  I have one full day on Thursday with both of them.  I love knowing that Thursday has no work, no school, and no schedule.  We have been having lots of fun with this so far.
 Each fireman  needs their own time, sometimes!

I'll be lucky if the balance continues, but at the very least, I've learned some important lessons on what I need in my work:life balance set-up.  I feel enormously fortunate to have the option to work part time and also to be in a job that is a good match.

Now for a brief soap box.  Our society needs to redefine WORK. Parents need to have time with their children and our work schedules and goals shouldn't be so arbitrary.  Every parent who wants to should be able to have conversations around flexible schedules.  And our childcare options need to be more flexible to match this on the other end.  Cora's school, the Child Development Program, does a great job with this, offering 9-12, 9-1, 9-3, plus early care and after care options on whatever combination of days you choose.  That is INVALUABLE for making part time work feasible.

I love time with my children and I'm so thankful I've been able to carve it out and still contribute to our family income and to professional goals. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Landry Speak

I love words. My children love several words in particular.  I've already written about Jack's fondness for actually (which has been dialed down lately.)  Cora has latched on to the tactic of repeating the same word over and over to make sure you know what she wants.


She's a girly girl that likes to play with her bows!
"Wawa" - two different people at her school commented this week, "Wow, she really likes her water." She asks for it repeatedly.

"Da(n)dee" - this means blankie, but to the church nursery workers, they heard "Daddy" and greeted me with "She cried the whole hour asking for her Daddy and pointing to this other child's blanket..."

"Uh-oh" - used when she's made a mistake, when she's about to make a "mistake", or she thinks you've made a mistake, as in "uhoh-uhoh-uhoh-uhoh" and pointing to what she wants you to do for her and which you've obviously forgotten to do.

"Dada" - maybe the first picture she saw was of her Daddy but any man in a picture is "dada" (including Nelson Mandela on the spine of his autobiography on our bookshelf). However, I'm also "dada" in pictures.  She lights up when she sees my wedding portrait and says "Dada!"  She will correctly say "Dja-dja" and "baby" for Jack and herself, but I remain "Dada."
"Ah dee" - means all done.  It may actually mean she's done, but it is also used to signify an empty plate after she's dropped every bit of food on the floor.  She will also put it on REPEAT when she's done but you haven't gotten the message, as in "Ah-dee, ah-dee, ah-dee" with a waving hand to knock the piece of food you are offering also onto the floor.

"Uh-uh" - means NO! and she will just keep saying it until you listen.  She's a feisty one these days!

"Dja-dja" (said with a twitch, hands making fists, and arms stretching out) - she is always so excited when she sees her brother!  Her teacher loves to tell me how she does this whenever Jack's name is mentioned.

I think a parent probably never gets over thinking their firstborn is so clever.  I mean they are the one hitting all the milestones first.  Plus when you're in love with someone, you think everything they do is cute :)  So on to brother Jack:


"quite" - as in "I can't quite remember."
"triple superlatives" - as in "the biggest, most biggest game of Memory ever!" or "the biggest, most biggest game of Hide and Seek in the world!"

And this kid has his quirks too.  He now HAS to cycle through the same list of requests every night before bed.  If you leave before he's done or if he forgets one, he calls you back (or cries).
"Mommy, will you tell me when it's morning and tell Daddy to tell me when it's morning and will you give me a kiss in a little while and will you tell Daddy to give me a kiss too?"

Also: if you say "Jack, you have 2/5/10 more minutes" he without fail responds:
"5 more LONG minutes" to which you must respond or else he'll keep asking

This comes up in parks and playdates and before most transitions, but amusingly the other day his friend was told to share his bike with Jack in three more minutes, to which Jack responded "3 more SHORT minutes, okay?" 

Why would you want to leave the park when you are having this much fun!?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September Beach Trip

We went on a four day vacation to Pensacola the weekend after Labor Day.  This was awesome timing for a lot of reasons and we may try to replicate this next year.  We captured the fun on camera:


For Jacob: Reading a whole book start to finish, solo time to visit a Pensacola brewery, having time to cook

For Me: Reading a whole book start to finish, spending time with my favorite people without the usual distractions, being on top of preparations so that we arrived with ingredients to make our favorite foods

For Jack:  The pool, the fire station down the road, the five-door fire station on the naval airstation base

For Cora: A new space to toddle around, emptying the bucket of shovels and putting them back in, all her favorite people together for four days

Saturday, September 07, 2013

15 Month Update

First Scraped Up Nose
Cora will be 15 months on Monday...  Her life lately:

Sleeping - much improved!  Most nights, she sleeps 7/7:30 until 5-6:30.  If she wakes before 6, I can usually nurse her and get her to go back to sleep.  She struggles some on her school mornings as she doesn't get to nap until after 12.  It works well that she just goes Monday and Wednesday as it allows her to take two naps on the other weekdays and catch up on her sleep.

School - Jacob or I are now dropping her off at friend's in the morning as part of a carpool.  This may be helping with less tears once she arrives at school.  When I pick her up in the afternoons, she seems happy.  Of course she can't give me much feedback, but overall we feel good about the new set-up.

Eating Habits - Nurses 4-5 times a day, so less than the last few months.  She's always been an under 5 minute nurser, but lately, she really loves to nurse and can hang out for a while, so I've taken to reading, something I haven't done while nursing since she was 3 or so months old.  As for food (as in all things), she knows what she likes.  At the moment:
  • Cora Favorites: bananas, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, any melon, dried figs and apricots, plain oatmeal, eggs, cheese, bread, tamales, pasta, meat, mushrooms, sweet potato wedges, and grilled vegetables
  • No Thank You's: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, applesauce, most things on spoons, salad
Talking/Learning - This girl KNOWS what she wants and while her vocabulary is waiting to catch up, she uses a lot of "UH-UH-UH" and gesturing and pointing to make sure you are getting her message.
  • In the morning we hear: "dankie" (blankie) which she drags all over the house, "wawa" (water cup) "mamama" (mama milk) "dja-dja" (Jack-Jack) and "Da-dee" a lot
  • At the table, we hear "da-doo" (thank you), "ah-dee" (all done), and a lot of "wawa"
  • During the day, she'll come up and say "tinkee" when she wants to be changed (sometimes) and "all kee" (all clean) when she's clean
  • On walks, she still gets very excited to see "DOG-gie" and "birdee"
  • She now knows cows say "moo", cats say "mew" and dogs say "wuff-wuff"
  • She can say "I wuh woo," sometimes unprompted :)
  • She can point to her belly button when asked and her nose
  • She picks up her favorite books and backs up into your lap for you to read to her
  • She loves, loves to organize (I'm so proud!!) and can spend a long time putting things into a container and taking them back out
She loves destroying our bookshelf!

Personality - she's a little extra clingy lately - maybe an effect from being left somewhere all day for the first time?  She also gets her feelings hurt easily and will collapse on her bottom, drop her head to the floor, and cry big drop tears.  She'll recover fast if you also drop to the floor and open your arms for a hug (she dramatically gets up and toddles over to collapse in your arms.) :)  


Jacob took Cora and Jack to his mom's house for a weekend visit while I was on a quick trip and he was amused to find Jack and Cora entertaining each other in the back seat.  Watching their relationship grow is really special and fun.  As Cora is easy to offend, we are continuing to learn to take true stock of a situation before issuing judgement.  She'll grab a toy and toddle-run away, but Jack is increasingly patient with this.  (We're working on getting him to show such patience at school!)  But the sweetest moment happened last week, when Cora grabbed a toy for the 3rd or 4th time, ran away, leaving Jack so frustrated he dropped his head down to the floor, visibly upset. Cora saw his response and paused, looked down at the toy, and then walked back and gave it to Jack.  I loved watching this response :)  Her teacher (who was also Jack's first teacher) say she lights up whenever his name is mentioned and says an enthusiastic "Dja-dja!"  I pick Jack up first and he always runs into her school saying "I want to be the first one Cora sees."

Love them both so much!