JD’s New Job

So, JD recently switched jobs within the department.  He’s still a LEO, but moved to the Community Squad where he’ll move away from 911 calls and move towards proactive police work and more community outreach type projects.  After 5 years as a beat officer, he was starting to feel burnt out so he’s definitely ready for a change of pace.  I’m excited to see him pursue something new, especially since he’s so great with people and I think it will be a good fit for him.  Selfishly, one of the things I’m most excited about is the schedule change.

I’ve definitely referred to (code for: complained about) his schedule many times before.  He used to have to work 12 hour shifts every couple of days, including every other weekend and work night shifts every other month.  I got used to it, but it still sucked a lot of the time.  Night shift month was hard on both L and I.  She acted out more when he wasn’t around and I got tired of carrying so much of the burden alone.  Because his shifts were so long, he couldn’t help with daycare dropoff or pickup even on day shift months (he left for work before daycare opened and arrived home after it closed).  Plus, with a non-traditional schedule, there were so many things JD missed on weeknights and weekends that people with “normal” schedules plan- birthday parties, social gatherings, and even the occasional weekend road trip.

On top of it all, a few years ago I had to start traveling for work on occasion.  This added a whole new dimension of complication and frustration.  There are plenty of working moms at my company who travel a LOT more than I do.  I’ve asked a few of them how they manage it with kids at home.  The answer is almost invariable “Well my husband really steps up.  He’s great.”  Whomp. Whomp.  I mean, my husband is great too, but it was nearly impossible to accommodate business travel around those 12 hour shifts and night shift months.  So how did I manage?  JD’s grandparents helped us out a TON.  L did several overnights with them while I was away and I probably owe my job to them to be honest.  And while they were always willing and eager to help (not once did they ever say no or do anything that made me feel bad), I still felt guilty and stressed turning everyone’s life upside down for the sake of work trips.

But all of that is behind us, because with JD’s new schedule he now works Monday to Friday 8 to 4 most weeks of the month (one week each month he has a second shift 4 PM to 2 AM).  And while the transition has been a little strange for both of us (the other night we turned to each other and said “it’s kind of weird being together all the time”) it’s been amazing to have him home on weeknights and every single weekend.  I finally feel like we’re a true team and we can tackle all of the household and parenting tasks together.  I have his help for the morning routine/daycare dropoff and his help in the evenings getting dinner ready and getting L to bed.  On weekends I can go grocery shopping All. By.  Myself.  (ALL BY MYSELF!)  I never have to worry that he’ll miss something a friend has planned or an important event.  This past weekend we drove to Atlanta to visit my sister… because it was a holiday weekend… and we can do things like that now. 

I’m not saying there weren’t some benefits to his old schedule and there aren’t trade offs with the new one.  We both miss the weekdays the JD got to spend at home with L- the new schedule means that she has to be in daycare full-time.  We’re both getting used to the fact that we don’t really have one-on-one time with L or really any of the alone time that the old schedule allowed. Most of these things can be remedied- we talked about each of us doing a mommy-daughter day and a daddy-daughter date once a month so we still get our one on one time with Loralai but allow the other person some time to themselves.   But, at the end of the day Loralai actually loves daycare and gets excited to go play with her friends and it’s totally worth the trade off of having her there full-time to be able to have JD home on holidays and weekends.

I have no illusion that JD will have this schedule for the rest of his career.  His squad could change the way their schedule works or he could move to a different unit- there are a lot of things that could change.  But for now, I will enjoy a bit of “normalness” that’s been inserted into our lives.

What You Missed

I’m back, y’all!

Well, I survived my month of social media blackout.  Actually, I would say I more than survived.  I thrived.  A friend actually had to remind me that it’s August and the end of my hiatus.  I will be posting later this week about my social media-less month, but for now, I’ll just fill you in on what you missed while I was gone.

*I got a huge promotion at work.  Having just gotten a promotion last fall, it initially felt a little too good to be true, but I’ve been lucky in that some really good opportunities have opened up at the right times for me.  I’m really excited about my new role and think it will be a great path for me.

*My family visited during 4th of July weekend and it was great that they got to have some quality time with L.  My dreams of us sitting quietly and enjoying the fireworks as a family were dashed when L decided she wanted to chase after the fireworks instead (in turn, JD and I ended up chasing after her the whole time).

*We have continued to soak up summer and JD’s light duty schedule by doing things “normal families” do.  We’ve been able to go to brunch on the weekends, go to a nearby lake for an afternoon of swimming and playing in the sand, visit the playground, go on some low key hikes, and even squeeze in a few days where we did nothing  but sit on the couch and have movie marathons (ah, the gloriousness of being totally lazy).

*I started seeing a chiropractor because, as it turns out, carrying a person in your belly for 9 months can really jack up your back.  It’s amazing how much that goes on in your body is actually caused by misalignment in your spine.  Chiropractors are highly underrated.

*L’s new favorite thing is pooping in the bath.  I want it to be funny, but it’s actually quite irritating.  I spend a lot more time than I like to admit scooping turds out of the tub.  As if to make up for this, she’s gotten really good at giving hugs and even said “Wuv you” the other day.  Melt.  My.  Heart.

So, there you have it.  Our glamorous, riveting life.  Aren’t you sad you’ve been missing all of this? 🙂

Rock Star Status – Working Moms Do It All

It’s no secret that life as a working mom can be frustrating (I’ve blogged about that a time or two), but there are also days that are completely gratifying.  Those are the days I feel like a superwoman, where I feel like I rocked my job, I rocked my home life, and I want to run to the top of a mountain, throw my hands up in the air and yell “I CAN do it all!”

Yes, this thought has actually crossed my mind.

There are a lot of times where the balance doesn’t feel quite right- I feel like I’m either slacking at work or slacking at home.  But sometimes… everything just falls into place and I feel like I’ve hit the perfect balance.

I’m having one of those days.  Actually, I’m having one of those weeks.

JD worked night shift all weekend?  No problem.  L and I rocked Home Depot and the grocery store Saturday morning.  When L started to get cranky part way through our grocery shopping, I reinvigorated her with a snack, and both of us made it through our morning of errands without a meltdown.

Swimsuit season coming up?  On it.  I somehow have the time and the energy for the gym and have gotten in some killer workouts.

Relying on my hubby to get yard work done?  Nope, independent woman right here, folks.  While JD’s grandma watched L on Sunday,  I did the planting, mulching, and weeding by myself.  (We’ll ignore the fact that I did need my trusty hubby to get the mower started- but I blame our mower, not my lack of womanly independence).

And I didn’t stop there.

This mama still knows how to kick butt at work.  Did I give a presentation to one of our Executive VP’s this week?  Yes, yes I did.  Did I nail it?  According to the director, I did.

And in the midst of all this, L is still there, smiling, laughing, finding the greatest joy in the simplest things, like a balloon or pretending to offer an orange slice to me before sticking it in her own mouth and laughing.  She is the one who reminds me to stop, take it all in, and cherish those quiet moments- those moments where the only thing I’m “getting done” is watching my little one grow.  Those moments where she asks me to read Goodnight Moon three times in a row and where I see her little mind churning as we work through her number puzzle.

I am many things- a wife, a career woman, a landscaper- I do it all, but my most important role will always be mom.

Anniversary of My Return to Work

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my return to work.  Although JD stayed home with L for those first few weeks back, this anniversary does make me think about what it was like to leave L with the babysitter for the first time.  (Side note: I’m not sure what’s with all this nostalgia lately).  Here’s the post I wrote (on my old blog) detailing my first day back…


7:00am: While feeding the baby, I notice a small red mark on her neck. It’s probably irritation from dried milk, but I’m tempted to call it a “big rash” and stay home with her for the day… or forever.

7:30am: Arrive at the babysitter’s house with 2 big bags of stuff. Wonder whether I compulsively over-packed like I always do, or if I’m just an organized and prepared mom. The babysitter greets Loralai excitedly and Loralai smiles back. I’m reassured that we picked the right caregiver for our love.

7:35am: I tear myself away as K (the babysitter) promises to text me pics throughout the day. I get in the car and pull away, determined to be a strong mama and not cry, but my heart aches. It’s like leaving a piece of my heart with a stranger.

8:00am: Arrive at work and give myself a pat on the back for getting both of us ready and out the door on time on my first attempt. Am slightly surprised when my co-workers don’t throw confetti to celebrate my punctuality.

8:05am: Wonder why K hasn’t already sent pictures. I mean, it’s been a half hour.

8:30am: Missing L like crazy. Realizing that this is even harder than when I first started work and left her at home with JD. Send my mom a sad text.

9:21am: Receive first pic from K. L is happily snuggled in the car seat taking a nap while K drives her daughter to school. Glad to see she’s not freaking out and that I’m not missing anything other than nap time at the moment.

12:10pm: Receive a video from K of L cooing. Miss her.

2:15pm: Pull up Google maps to determine fastest route to babysitter’s house. Determined to find a better way than this morning. I want to pick up my baby ASAP.

3:00pm: Receive another picture of L napping. Notice she’s wearing a different onesie than this morning. K informs me she had a diaper explosion. That makes me laugh. Our sweet L just had to break in the new babysitter right away!

4:00pm: Wonder if this day could get any longer.

4:29pm: Leave for the day. Am tempted to run down to my car but refrain myself. This is still a professional environment, after all.

4:45pm: Curse traffic. Also, stoplights. The afternoon commute seems infinitely longer than the morning commute.

5:00pm: L is still napping. K is talking quietly so she doesn’t wake her up. I don’t care, because I’m picking up my baby and giving her a huge kiss. L stretches but doesn’t fuss. I get a groggy half smile.

We head home, and suddenly nothing else matters.

Tears, Returning to Work, and Life as a Working Mom

Ever since having L, I associate different times of the year with my pregnancy or with the different stages of her first year.  This time of year marks my final days of maternity leave and my preparations to return to work.  It was, undoubtedly, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life.  I still remember the dark cloud that hung over me in those final weeks of leave.  I looked at my tiny little peanut who was changing by the minute, and knew, with overwhelming sadness, that I would be missing so much by returning to work.

Whether watching her play happily on her playmat or quietly holding her, memorizing her face, there was always, always the backdrop of sadness.

With tears streaming down my face, I thought, 10 weeks is not enough. It’s not even close to being enough.

Fortunately, JD was able to stay home with her during the first 4 weeks I was back at work.  It made the transition infinitely easier, but when I think back on those 10 weeks I had at home with her, I feel almost like I’m grieving something that I can’t ever have back.

The first few months back at work were hard.  I wanted to walk out the door and quit nearly every day, not because of work itself, but because it seemed dumb to be spending so many hours away from L instead of cherishing every second of watching her grow.  I gazed out the window and saw women with jogging strollers enjoying the morning sun.  I envied them.  I hated them.  I browsed real estate sites for houses out in the country, scheming for ways we could live off one income.

But, in time, that morning daycare dropoff became routine and I found my stride at work again.  I’m thankful to have a good job, especially when so many others out there are struggling.  I’m glad to have something that stimulates me, and I know that the time outside of the house spending time with other caregivers and kiddos is actually really good for L.

I still get a pang of jealousy when I watch a mom leisurely strolling down the street, or when a friend posts pics from a museum or a playground on a weekday, but I know in my heart, that is not my path, even if I will forever have mixed feelings about it.

I’m a working mom.  I love it.  I hate it.  I do it because I truly believe it’s the best decision I could have made for my family.

Stranded in SoCal

So, last week I flew out to Santa Monica, CA for a quick work trip (or what was supposed to be a quick trip).  Then, Snowpocolypse happened, and everything on the East Coast shut down for 2 days, so Thursday’s return flight was canceled.  There are certainly worse places I could have been stuck (my co-worker sent me a pic of the customer service line at LAX, super glad I knew before I even left for the airport that my flight was canceled and was able to make alternative arrangements), but when your hubby is snowed in with a sick baby on the opposite side of the country and you have no way of getting home to them, it’s hard not to feel at least a little guilty.

Stranded or not, I was in sunny LA, the land of blue skies, cool ocean breezes, and a vibe that practically begs you to take a deep breath and relax.  So, guilt-ridden or not, I decided to make the most of it.  I finished up some work on the sun deck of my hotel (talk about an office with a view!) then went to work figuring out a way to take advantage of my extra time in LA.  I finally decided on one of those cheesy bus tours.  It seemed like the easiest and most practical way to see a little bit of everything in the short amount of time I had left.

I boarded the bus Friday afternoon and immediately noticed I was surrounded by nothing but couples.  Oh right, it’s Valentine’s Day I realized.  It’s nothing new for me to spend a holiday alone, which is probably why it’s kind of easy for me to forget about holidays in the first place, but in a strange twist, it turned out my schedule was the one ruining the holiday this time, not JD’s.

It was surreal to be touring LA, seeing all these iconic places.  LA has always almost felt fictional to me, like a place that only really exists in movies or on TV.  No one real actually lives or works there, it seemed.  Yet, it was all real- the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, giant cliffside mansions, gorgeous West Coast sunsets- I was able to experience it all.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted and ready to crash.  I was booked at a hotel closer to the airport for the night, so I called a cab to make the trek to the new location.  Unfortunately, it was a Friday night in LA, and a holiday on top of all of that.  Traffic was THE WORST, so I spent a good hour darting in and out of traffic in a tiny Prius (the cab of choice in LA) with a very nice man who was listening to some get-you-in-the-mood R&B radio station.  There was something both endearing and creepy about it.

I guess, all things considered, I was really lucky.  I wasn’t one of the people stranded on the side of the road or at a random airport.  The extra few days were a real gift- a chance to explore the city in a way I couldn’t have otherwise, given the time constraints of my original trip.  And, when I finally arrived home, I was welcomed by L’s grin as she toddled towards me.  I have a lot to be thankful for.

This is what the Santa Monica Pier looked like on the first night.  Just a bit foggy.IMG_2023

We found a cute Mexican place to have dinner right off Ocean Ave.


I couldn’t get enough of the iconic SoCal palm trees against the blue sky.


Working on the sun deck.  Not a bad “office view.”


This is the part of the trip where I started taking awkward selfies because I was all by myself.


The Santa Monica Pier.


Thanks to my extra days in Cali, I got a slightly less foggy view this time 🙂


More fun with awkward selfies.


Finally able to catch that West Coast sunset.


Gorgeous.  Almost looks like a postcard.


A tiny little Italian place I found on Third Street Promenade.  The owner (who spoke with an accent) was very attentive  to his guests and asked “what a pretty girl like you is doing all alone?”


Sunny afternoon at the beach.


Beverly Wilshire Hotel- the same hotel from Pretty Woman!


Rodeo Drive.  ‘Nuff said.


LA really is as smoggy as they say.


The Hollywood sign!




Got a nice couple to take a picture instead of another awkward selfie.


Found my favorite actress on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (I also found Chuck Norris for JD).


A shot from Hollywood Blvd up to the Hollywood sign.


Adventures in Denver

Well, I had a total BLAST in Denver last week.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, since it was a work trip and I would be spending the week with people I’d never met, but I am lucky to have a team full of really fun, awesome people who wanted to explore Denver as much as I did.  In fact, we were so busy having fun, that I didn’t even get a chance to write any blog posts!

The week was full of laughs, drinks, late nights, new friendships, and a little work here and there.

Here are some pictures from my trip (sorry for some of the picture quality, they were all taken on my phone).

Denver, where even the airport terminal is cool….




And the office views are gorgeous….


And long-distance friends can meet up for dinner and drinks…


Where business professionals meet for important meetings…


And serious work gets done…


 Where a quick half-hour drive will take you to some of the most breath-taking views….


And a famous amphitheater…


And a little park called Red Rocks can make your entire week…







Bye Denver!  Hope to do it again soon!



Compulsive Over-Packer

Well, the day of the Denver trip has arrived.  Today, I leave on a jet plane, and as I prepared for my departure over the weekend, I realized that there’s one unavoidable truth about myself.

Hi, I’m Jenny and I’m a compulsive over-packer.

For as long as I can remember, I have been this way.  I remember one vacation when I was a teenager where I had an entire duffle bag devoted to shoes (I’m thinking my dad didn’t realize what was actually in the bag, otherwise he probably would have left it behind).  What can I say?  I’m a woman; I like to have options.  In fact, on the few occasions that I’ve truly limited what I packed (like a short weekend trip where I was determined to only take one bag), I inevitably end up wishing I had something that I didn’t bring. My motto is- better to have too  much than not enough (the true American way).

I also have a fear of being unprepared.  My inner-monologue while packing for this trip went something like this:

Well, it’s not supposed to snow, so at least I don’t need to pack my snow boots.

But what if it snows anyway?

I better pack my snow boots.

The hotel has a fitness center, but I doubt I’ll work out every day I’m there.

Let’s be honest, I’ll probably just want to take advantage of the opportunity for uninterrupted sleep; I probably won’t work out at all.

But what if I want to work out every day?

I better pack 4 workout outfits, just in case.

So, I’m over-packed, yet again.  The good news is I limited myself to one regular suitcase and one carry-on, so I won’t look totally ridiculous when I land in Denver and meet up with the two people I’m sharing a rental car with.

Can’t go giving away all my secrets right away…

Mama Goes on a Business Trip

So, I knew travel was a possibility when I was offered the promotion a couple of months ago, and it didn’t take long for the first trip to come up. Since my new team is spread out at offices across the country (I’m the only one from my team in my office location), they are bringing everyone to Denver next week for a week-long team meeting.

When I heard the news, my very first thought was how excited I was- I’ve always wanted to see Denver. It sounds like such a cool city, and I know the mountains we have here in NC are basically foothills compared to what they have out there. I work with people based out of the Denver office all the time, so I’m excited to meet them face-to-face and get to know everyone on my new team.

Then I started to think about L and how guilty I felt for being excited. Aren’t I supposed to be devastated that I’m leaving her for a week? Am I missing some sort of motherhood-attachment gene? I know a lot of moms who can barely stand the thought of leaving their kids overnight, let alone for a whole week. Why don’t I feel that way? If I already have a hard time leaving her for 40 hours a week and every second at home is precious to me, why am I okay with this?

Maybe being away from her during the week is the very reason it’s easier for me to take a trip like this. I’m used to spending time away from her. Life for our family has always been about balance.  For me, balance means being a loving mom and having a successful career, even if I have to leave her for a couple of days every once in a while.

Luckily, with JD’s schedule, he has always played an equal part in taking care of her. I don’t have to worry about him knowing when/how much to feed her or what her bedtime routine is.

I’m just hoping she doesn’t change too much in those 5 days.  You hear that, Loralai?!  No walking or anything….






All About Perspective

Over the past few weeks, work has been pretty stressful. I’ve been keeping busy transitioning from my old role to my new one, helping to get the new hires on my old team up to speed, training for the new team I’m supporting, and have had 2 major projects with quick turnaround times thrown into the mix. Nearly every day, I’ve come home with something to vent to JD about, and he’s been super supportive and a solid listener.

The thing is, sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be complaining to JD about work. I mean, really, what do I know about work stress? Ultimately, it’s all about perspective, but sitting in an office dealing with an irate account manager is very different than chasing down a felon.

Honestly, how can I sit here and whine about insignificant work problems when JD is out in the world dealing with real problems? But, being the great hubby he is, he’s never thrown that in my face. I’ve never felt like I can’t vent to him about work, because I know he’s not going to turn around and tell me “Well some guy pulled a knife on me today, so I don’t wanna hear it.”

But sometimes I wonder how he can even take my work stories seriously.

A typical Jenny work story is something like “So they totally changed this process on us and didn’t tell us.  So we sent this issue to team A but they sent it back and had to send it to team B.  I was so irritated.”

A typical JD work story is “Well I started out the day by chasing down a suspect.  I had to tackle him and wrestle with him to get him cuffed.  Later, I had to pepper spray this guy on bath salts.  Luckily, I didn’t get any on me because that really burned last time.”

Definitely not the same.