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.

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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? 🙂

Transition to Daycare

L has officially been at the new daycare for a week and a half and it’s been going relatively well. It’s still an adjustment for both of us, but I think we’re doing okay.

The weekend before she started, I was REALLY nervous about her first day. Obviously, I was happy and comfortable with the place I chose (otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it), but the transition was making me nervous. For a year, I was taking L to the same person (K) every morning; I was leaving her in someone’s home, an environment that felt intimate and nurturing. K and I had a mutual trust, and L’s smile when I dropped her off always assured me that she was safe and happy.

As much as I liked the new daycare, the teachers, and their philosophies when I toured, there was something intimidating and almost chaotic about the preschool classrooms to me. Her class is small- no more than 10 kids for her age group (and 2 teachers to corral them), but walking in there made me want to cry. Like I was going to be dumping her off, left behind to be just another being in a sea of children.

But beneath my insecurities and fears, I knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing. L is a bright, curious, intelligent and social kid. Mom instincts told me she would thrive with the additional stimulation that a daycare center would provide. She is also easygoing and adaptable, so the change wouldn’t be too rough on her.

There have been some tears at drop-off, but that’s to be expected. Still, it’s hard to hand her off to the teacher when she’s crying, shaking her head no, and reaching for me (kids have a funny way of making you feel like the worst parent ever), but the teachers have assured me (repeatedly) that as soon as I’m out the door, she’s done crying (I have confirmed that it does get quiet once I’m out of sight), and that overall she’s transitioning better than average and is happy to play outside, read stories, and make new friends during the day.

I don’t think either of us are fully comfortable with our new routine yet, but we’re getting there. In the meantime, I just have to trust my instincts and know that I did what’s best for her.

Friday Favorites: Work, Play, Blog Love

Related to Work

Working from home: There’s nothing quite like rolling out of bed and logging into your work computer while sipping coffee in your PJ’s.  (I get to do it every Friday!)  No rush hour traffic, no scramble to get yourself, a baby, and 3 dogs ready for the day, and when I’m done for the day, I’m already home!

Standing desk: I don’t know about any other mamas out there, but I definitely jacked something in my tailbone up when I was giving birth.  Since then, sitting for extended periods of time has really bothered my hips and tailbone.  In December, it reached a point that was pretty excruciating, to the point that I couldn’t handle sitting for a full day.  When I heard we had some sit/stand workstation setups floating around the office, I jumped at the chance to get one. I now stand for a couple of hours every day, and being able to switch it up has made all the difference.

 

Related to Play

Having a 16 month old:  She’s pretty awesome. She is curious, bright, social, fun, and loving.  She’ll sit at the table and color, dance to music, and mimic almost anything we do.  She is past the helpless baby stage but pre cranky toddler stage. Yeah, Mom Life is pretty good right now.

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Summer: Even as a working adult who doesn’t get summers off, there’s still something special about it.  Summer seems to bring more time with friends, sunshine, laughter, sand and water, tasty drinks, and so much joy.

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JD on light duty: We leave at the same time every morning.  We arrive home at the same time every night.  He has every weekend off.  There is something almost uncomfortable about the normalcy of it all, but it’s been such a blessing in disguise.  It gives us time to enjoy all those wonderful summer things I just mentioned, as a family, 100% of the time.

 

Favorite Bloggers and Blog Posts

I love, love reading blogs, and I’m always looking for new ones.  For any of you looking for new blogs to follow, here are my favorites.

One thing I will mention is that I follow several police wife blogs, but none of the ones I follow have posted recently.  Maybe someday I can do a post completely dedicated to police wife blogs.  In the meantime, suggestions welcome!  Post your favorite blogs in the comments 🙂

 

Ain’t No Mom Jeans– She is my blog crush. (Is that a thing?  If not, I’m making it a thing.  In a non-creepy way, of course.)  I love her blog so much because she takes such an honest look at motherhood, and a practical approach to being a fashionable mom, whether pregnant, postpartum, nursing, or just chasing young kiddos around. (Also, she recently battled breast cancer and still manages to look fabulous all the time.)

She recently posted about a trip to a conference without her kids, and the comments she made about returning home really resonated with me. I could have written it myself, really.

“Mamas home, where she belongs. And I do belong here, right here, with them. But part of me wants the expansive me, the one with vision, and personal goals that are very different from the goals of a mother. I guess that’s the trick, right? This balance of what you can give vs what you need; I want it all.”

 

Working Mom Magic– I feel like most mom blogs out there are by stay-at-home moms.  I’m not trying to demean what they do in any way, but it is very different than being a working mom.  It’s nice to read a blog from another mama who’s out there, like me, doing the work thing.

I really, really enjoyed this post where she talks about the dangers of the “everybody wins” attitude.

I also really enjoyed her post about following your mom instincts, which sometimes means ignoring what the books and “experts” tell you.  So.  True.

 

Airing My Dirty Laundry– Her husband is in the Air Force, and while I feel a sense of camaraderie towards her for being a military spouse, it also reminds me to be thankful that JD is ONLY a LEO and not a LEO in the military.  Her husband deploys.  A lot.  And she has 2 kids.  Yuck.

She posted recently about people who tell her that the military lifestyle is “easy.”  A big WTF to that.

 

Hands Free Mama– In today’s world, it’s so easy to get caught up in the constant hustle and bustle of work, school, activities, and the distractions of cell phones, iPads, and TVs.  She is an absolutely beautiful writer who reminds us to focus on the things that really matter in life, like our kiddos.

 

A Game of Diapers– Two full-time working parents and 3 kiddos, 2 of which are twins?!  Oh my, I have no idea how she does it, folks.

 

Healthy Slice of Life– A good blog, especially if you like cooking and focusing on feeding your family with nutritious, healthy foods.  I hate cooking, but for some reason still really enjoy this blog.  That must mean something 🙂

 

 

 

Thursday Tip- Creating a Joint Family Gmail Calendar

Adding a Joint Calendar

It’s hard to have a daily routine when your schedule is constantly changing. It’s also hard to plan ahead or make plans with people.  Night shift, day shift, work from home, travel, in service training, off duty work, babysitter vs. JD’s grandma vs. family friend for child care… it’s a LOT to keep track of. And L is only 1- she doesn’t have her own schedule of activities and get togethers yet. It’s going to get worse, people.

To help maintain sanity, I created a Gmail calendar that JD and I can use jointly and syncs to our phones.  It’s been life changing, to say the least. If someone asks if we’re available, I can quickly check the calendar. If JD signs up for off duty, he can add it to the calendar in case he forgets to tell me (which happens quite often). I set alerts for things I’m afraid I’ll forget, add an address that I can easily GPS when it’s time to leave, and create popup reminders for things I need to bring to certain events.

For me, I have 3 calendars- personal, family, and Loralai’s daycare schedule; the family and daycare calendars are shared with JD.  Call it hyper-organized or OCD, but it’s saved us a lot of hassle and confusion.

I thought I’d share the basic instructions on how to do this. I’m assuming 2 things here- you and your significant other each have a Gmail account (or a joint Gmail account) and that you have smart phones.

First, you have to create the calendar.

Log in to your Gmail account, and in the top right corner of the page, you’ll see a grid with 9 boxes. Click on that grid to open menu options, then select Calendar.

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You will be taken to your default calendar. On the left side, there is a red button that will allow to create a new event, a month view below that, and below that a drop down called “My Calendars.” Select the arrow on the right “My Calendars,” and it will allow you to Create a New Calendar.

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On the next screen, you’ll need to name your calendar, select your time zone, and enter the email address(es) that you want to share with. Be sure to select the correct permissions for each person you share the calendar with. If you want them to be able to add and change events, you will need to select one of those options from the Permission Settings to the right of their email address.

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Now, click Create Calendar at the top of the screen!

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Anyone invited to the calendar will receive an email notifying them of the new calendar and the calendar will be automatically added to their Gmail account. Everyone invited to the calendar will be able to access it under My Calendars on the left side of the screen.

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To create an event, select the red “Create” button and fill out all of the information.image007

 

A few features to highlight…

**Be sure to select the right calendar from the Calendar dropdown to make sure the event populates to your joint calendar

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**Use the reminder settings to either send an email reminder and/or a pop-up that will appear on your phone, if you’d like (I am a reminder fiend). Note: Reminder settings will NOT populate to the other user(s) of your joint calendar. So if I set up a reminder, my husband will not get that same reminder. He could manually set his own, if he wanted (he doesn’t, but he could).

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Once you’re finished, be sure to hit the “Save” button!

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Once saved, the event will automatically populate on desktop and mobile devices (assuming the calendar is synced to the mobile device) for all calendar users.

And speaking of syncing…

The instructions are different for each type of mobile device.  I’m not going to detail out sync instructions for the different device types, but I’ve linked to some instructions below, for reference.

iPhone or iPad

Android

BlackBerry

 

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.