Friday, August 31, 2012

Pity Partay

The mini-reorg at work has started.  I am still employed, but the new job I got is such an awful fit with my skills and personality that I almost wish someone would buy me out and give me severance.

My boss's boss called to tell me the "good" news.  All I could manage was "Mhhmmm" and "Uh-huh" and finally "OK, bye".  I hung up and burst into tears.  I'm not one to cry much at work, but this is just such a supremely bad fit that it feels awful.  Also, the person who gets the job that I love and am good at is the guy who filled in for me during my recent maternity leave so now I wonder if I hadn't gone and taken 5 months off if this would have even happened.  What a crap lot of emotions happening!

So, anyway, I cried on and off in my office for the next couple hours (while still doing an awesome amount of work for the job that I love).  Since my office is in a small building in a remote part of the factory grounds, I didn't see anyone except the young woman in the office next to me.  She was very understanding.  Then I went through the entire box of tissues on my desk, went to my car and went through those, so when she went out to lunch, she stopped and brought me back a very pretty cube of Puffs.  And I won't be sitting next to her thoughtfulness any more.  Damn her for being so awesome and making this even harder.

I texted my BFF the following:  "The mini re-org came down & I am unattractively crying at my desk (bldg is empty so it's OK).  I want a bat, some Beastie Boys, and an old printer.  Oh well."  She replied with supportive words, so I followed it up with "How long is it appropriate to cry at work b4 u stop feeling sorry for urself? Im getting that cried too much headache & thirsty feeling."

So, I am done crying now.  I have to figure out a game plan for what to do because taking the new job is not really much of an option.  It is such a bad fit that it wouldn't even be funny how bad it would be.  (Imagine me having to interact with people every day...and sit in an open-style cube farm with others.  The solitude-loving introvert in me would go crazy having to be near people at home and at work.)  My husband said to send a meeting notice to my boss, my boss's boss, and the potential new boss to discuss career path (and send it right before I go home for a holiday weekend).  I made my wishes and preferences well-known prior to the re-org so I doubt they'd listen.  Does anyone have any better ideas?

Monday, August 27, 2012

In Which I Go Off the Rails or Seven Essays with No Theme

We should call this post: In Which I Go Off the Rails or Seven Essays with No Theme

Trip sleeps in a car seat. Or I should say used to sleep in his car seat. His first month or so home from the hospital he slept in his crib (just like his brothers before him), but he spit up so often and awakened himself coughing and choking (and soaking wet about the neck and head) that we quickly (Is a month really quick? – Ed.) realized he needed to sleep in a more upright position.

After his rough start with issues breathing, I wasn’t taking any chances with his breathing. So, enter the car seat. I put some sheets over it to protect it from any errant expulsions from Trip and we all lived happily ever after getting as much sleep as one can hope with a baby in the house. Until last night.

Trip has been rolling and commando crawling during floor time. He does baby-crunches and he has been doing his Pilates 100s every day for a week now. Just last night before bed (Monday), I told my husband that we should put Trip to bed in the crib. At the last minute, we decided to start tonight (Tuesday) because I am not going to work on Wednesday and if the sleep is not forthcoming, I would prefer not to be operating heavy machinery. And at 3:45 this morning, Trip wiggled out of the car seat (and onto the bedroom floor but really once his legs were out, he only went down about an inch, so I am not worried (much) about that). And so, into the crib he went after that feeding. The best laid plans….

Updated: Oh what a disaster…in the crib lasted 3 days. I’m now putting him into the car seat (buckled) to sleep because I cannot handle the vomiting in his sleep at the 45 minutes of sleep at a time all night long, and oh my, how awful. Will be asking the pediatrician about the reflux at the 6 month visit.


My husband is scheduling a baptism for Trip. If you have been reading the blog for a while, you know I am deeply conflicted by this. I fall somewhere between an agnostic and an atheist on the belief spectrum, but I am socially Protestant. I have read the children the Bible cover-to-cover (actually it’s the children’s bible) a couple of times just so that have a basis of reference (it was my first time reading it too). But if they ask if the stories really happened, I pretty much just shrug and tell them to ask their father, or I say that no one really knows or that some of the things probably happened and others didn’t (and so on). They have never asked me if I believed, and I have never offered an opinion on deities. I will not be involved in the baptism, per se, but I can plan a heck of a party for afterward. The End.


Chuckles started 2nd grade. He has 5 adults in his classroom of 24 students. There is the teacher (the only male 2nd grade teacher and Chuckles is very happy to have him), a student teacher (who is friends with our nanny), an instructional aide, and two one-on-one aides for students with special needs, but they are adults in the classroom (more eyes and ears).

Due to funding cuts (and some stupid state property tax caps that the voters put into the state constitution), the budgets at the school have been slashed by millions of dollars. The teachers’ union (not affiliated with one of the national unions) has been really good about working with the district to make non-instructional cuts. And the local taxing unit voters have approved property taxes in excess of the cap for our schools, but the budgets keep getting slashed. The PTO has taken over a lot of the extras to keep classroom budget money in the classroom.

But still, cuts are necessary as the state funding formula looks at demographics and says that economically depressed areas are going to get more funding, so our district keeps sending more money to the state and getting nothing back in return. And now, it’s personal. They’ve cut recess aides. The kids will still have some recess, but the afternoon recess will be canceled unless the classroom teachers want to take the kids out themselves. That used to be when they had their planning periods and when the instructional aides had their breaks. But the district tried to PC-doublespeak it when they sent out the notice: “This change will actually add flexibility to the teachers’ schedules because they will be able to provide breaks as needed, rather than at scheduled times.” Ugh, emphasis mine. I have a PTO meeting tomorrow, where I am sure we will discuss paying the salary for recess aides.


Speaking of school…studies have shown that literacy is important, but that students who have a strong foundation in math have better outcomes (in what, I don’t know and I can’t find the study citation). For some reason, our school is using ThinkMath, which my husband and I find maddening. I guess there are people who are actually afraid of math. I have never heard of anyone being afraid of reading, but somehow math has been elevated to some kind of bogeyman status by people. So, ThinkMath and Everyday Math are supposed to be good for people who are afraid of math (and afraid of teaching math, I guess.

I would prefer they just taught math (here is how you add, subtract, carry, borrow, etc). But I am sure some curriculum specialists have decided that kids need to know how to “estimate” and “break problems down”. It’s not that I don’t do those things (I do…all the time), but that I first learned how to do the problems the “right” way, and then as I got better, I figured out how to do the math faster and easier. I can add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly now by breaking problems up into smaller parts, but I feel that you need to learn the longhand ways first before you can learn the cheats. And I don’t think the cheats make any sense to you as to why you’re doing them until you learn the regular way. As an example, they are doing addition of two-digit numbers. So, 47+38. Now, I would like those up vertically, and say 8+7 is 15, write the 5, carry the one, 4+3+1 is 8 and the answer is 85. But they teach it this way:

40+7 = 47
30+8 = 38

It’s not that this is wrong…it’s that it’s slow and since the kids haven’t learned carrying yet, they don’t even know why they’re doing it this way. Also, the ThinkMath lessons are so time-consuming, many teachers don’t teach math every day (which is ridiculous). They don’t have time for math every day because Indiana mandates a 90-minute reading/phonics block.  I don’t have a problem with the protected block, in theory. But in practice, it’s a disaster for fluent readers. In the early grades, the focus is on the 6 core competencies (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension).

If you have a student who is in a lower grade, but already reading fluently for content, the time is essentially wasted. Yes, teachers should differentiate instructions, but I have found this is very hard to do in a standard single-grade classroom when the state standard says that all children must be fluent by 3rd grade. If the student is already fluent, are you going to put your limited resources there? Probably not. I don’t really have a problem with standardized testing. You need to know where you are to know where you need to go. But, at a certain point, there are students who are not well-served in this kind of classroom.

We have tried pull-out reading for Chuckles, enrichment in the classroom, etc. However, all of that enrichment is in addition to the regular classwork, so he felt punished by having to do extra (and the lessons he was working on were not put up on the smart board in the classroom so he never got a turn to use the smart pen…which felt like punishment as well). I thought they should replace the regular reading program with another program altogether (not just for him but for the other fluent readers as well….with about a hundred kids per grade, they could put 5 of them in a reading group together).

Apparently, there are certain lessons, tests, worksheets that must be done by every student regardless of reading level. It was a little….anger-inducing or stabby-making. I am trying to advocate for my kid but the state standards (which I now say with disdain in my voice) are inflexible (the rage-maker). In 3rd grade, there will be an entire class of advanced reading and math, so I am just waiting for 2nd grade to end to usher in the new golden era of 3rd grade. (If 3rd grade does not live up to my expectations, I do not know what I am going to do so I am not entertaining that right now. We don’t have a ton of options in the suburbs. The local private schools are all religiously-affiliated (which would be OK) and they all advertise that they adhere to state standards (ack!)).

Bad Mom, Good Mom does more justice to this topic than I ever could.  Go there to read up on topics related to G&T and HA education.

Updated:  We went to Back to School Night and met the teacher.  He seems energetic, nice, and young (Only 34!).  Cautiously optimistic.  He wants the kids to take responsibility for themselves.  That is one area that Chuckles sure could use some advancing.  So, if he gets nothing else out of this year than personal responsibility, I am happy.  Plus they're doing timed tests.  I love timed tests and have used that successfully at home with Chuckles so he can have a goal and work toward meeting it.  Yippee.  Timed tests.  Personal responsibility!  And secret challenge words on the spelling test that earn candy!  Woo Hoo.  Challenges!  Consider me happy until proven otherwise.


Bobo starts preschool in two weeks. My baby! All grown up! He is not the best listener and direction-taker ever so this ought to be interesting. Plus he is not cooperative at the potty, which will now need to be independent. This ought to be…fun?


So, about this Akin fellow. I don’t want to address his dumbing down of rape, because really…that’s just asinine. However, he is basically saying that he does not believe in abortion, ever, under any circumstances. That is not a position I support or want legislated (as a libertarian, I don’t want much legislated), but I can see the position on abortion (not the one on rape because like I said, asinine) and realize that it is a legitimate position for someone to have. If a person thinks abortion is murder and that murder is wrong, then abortion is wrong. I get that. I don’t agree with it, but I get it.

I guess I saved my hot-button topics for the end…the Boy Scouts. I said the following on AskMoxie:
“My 7yo just finished up his Tiger Cub, and I truly hope he sticks it out and makes his Eagle Scout. There may be other organizations that offer things for the youth, but there is nothing else out there with the name recognition of the Eagle Scout. There might be other scouting organizations out there that have an equivalent, but it won't be instantly recognizable as the EAGLE SCOUT is. If my son wants to go to a service academy some day, he needs to have the Eagle Scout.

I'm an atheist (though societally Judeo-Christian) and I can see myself agitating for change from within (when my kids are older and I have time to assume a leadership role in the scouts). I don't want to discriminate against any family who would want to join to perform acts of service for the community.”
That was me on July 19th. Well, over the weekend, merely a month later, I signed up to be the den leader with my husband because waiting for my kids to get older is not an option any more. I’ve decided to put my butt where my mouth is (or something like that). Our first act was to get the other leaders on board. We have decided that we are not going to exclude any families/children based on the sexual orientation (LGBTI - I just learned that there is now an I on the end of that…new to me…stands for intersex in case you are not in the know, as I wasn’t) of the parent(s) or child(ren). Now, we can begin agitating for change from within. First our den, then our pack, then our council, then the WORLD.

Pinky, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Gee, Brain, where are we going to get lederhosen at this time of night?

********* Peace, out.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to Work

So, I went back to work.  It's been nice - catching up with my colleagues, socializing around the proverbial water cooler, earning money, getting out of the house every day, having time to myself in the quiet in the car as I drive to work, at my desk, and while pumping.  Mrs. Marie has also been sending me texts and photos of the children daily, which is wonderful.

If I was at home, I would not be staring at a sleeping baby...I would be running away quickly and quietly to go screw around on the internet or brush my teeth.

It's been less nice in some other ways - leaving the kids, functioning on little sleep, traffic, pumping.

But all-in-all, I am happiest when I am working (in a flexible job that I have heard is fairly high-stress but that I don't let bother me). 

I was due for my mid-year review when I got back and was told to keep up the good work, so I shall.  It is nice to return to work and be told how much people missed me.  One notoriously gruff older gentleman at work hugged me he was so happy to see me.  And the hug was friendly and fatherly not icky and harrass-y.  I mentioned that one to my boss who was shocked because that guy is not a hugger (or even a smiler).  I think having tamed the lions gets me extra credit at work. 

Plus I have my office decorated with photos of my kids.  I figure if people have to contend with my maternity leave, they should be allowed to see what I was off doing. 

The picture that decorates my file cabinet.

Most of the men at work have grandkids the same age as my kids (it's pretty much all men at work...there are a handful of women of various ages who also think my kids are cute).  Many of them have daughters who work or don't or who have daughters-in-law who work or don't.  Really, for a heavy industrial environment, I have found it to be pretty family friendly.  Picture a coal mine, an oil refinery, or a smelter.  Does that seem family friendly to you?  And yet, I have found it to be true in most of the places I have worked.

Can you believe he starts SECOND grade in a week?  I cannot.
But based on how he looks here, I can understand why all those 7 year old girls keep calling my house.

Right before I went back to work, I went to the basement and pulled out all the bottles and nipples I had.  I found one single nipple of one kind that someone gave me when Chuckles was a baby.  We never used it so I just kept it in the box.  It turns out, that nipple was the winner.

Anyway, on my first day back, Trip took his first bottle (2 ounces) like a trooper using that random nipple.  By the second bottle, however, he was like, "Really? Two in a row? Where is that milk lady?" But he took most of the 2 ounces.  By the third bottle he was pissed.  But the next day, he took all three (using that random nipple).  And so it has been.

But I couldn't relax knowing that we only had one nipple. What if something happened to it? So, I went on a quest.  I hit many many stores and no one had it.  Well, it's a NUK.  And it's discontinued.  Of course it is.  I ended up finding a supply of them on  I realized if you are willing to throw enough money at a problem, you can make it go away.  I didn't know anything about the nipple other than standard width, NUK, Made in Germany, and orthodontic.  So, I bought slow and medium flow and put them both on bottles and compared the drip rate to the winner nipple at home. 

And this guy? He's starting preschool this year.

The winner is:  NUK, orthodontic, standard width (not wide width Trendline), Medium Flow (for 6+ months).  Trip is 4 months so that was a surprise, but he's taking it and is fine (and now taking three 4-ounce bottles).

In the interim, we introduced "solids".  Rice cereal mixed with breastmilk or formula, green beans, and squash so far.  We're going slowly.  The pediatrician said he likes to wait until 5 months for breastfed babies, but I couldn't wait if that was all Trip was going to eat.  I could stop the solids now, but why?  He'll be fine.

I call this picture "Oh, you think so, do you?"

So, that's what's going on.  I'm not sleeping because Trip's not sleeping.  I don't think caffeine was affecting him but I gave it up (again) to see if that would help (so I win either way...if giving it up helps him sleep better then I won't need the caffeine and if it doesn't help then I can use it while he doesn't  I'm pumping enough for his three 4-ounces bottles for now.  I have a lot in the freezer from maternity leave*, and I'm getting an extra bottle about once a week to put in the freezer.

Everything I do, I do it for you.

I get three weeks of vacation a year.  I used one day prior to maternity leave, then I took 19.5 weeks off so I have 14 days left.  I am taking one day a week for the first 5 weeks (first day or school, PTO meeting day, preschool orientation, etc).  It's a gradual return to work for all of us, and I am happy I can do it like this.

* In case anyone ever wants to know how I wind up with a freezer stash of's like this.  Every day (once you feel up to it) after the baby is born, you double pump after the first morning feeding.  You get to decide when "morning" is.  It started as after the 11 am feeding the first week and worked its way earlier over time to 6, 7, or 8 am by the end of leave. 

I try to be done pumping within one hour of the start time of the previous morning feeding so that I have enough time to make more milk prior to the next feeding.  I do this every day (seriously, every day...I think I skipped 6 days).  It induces a slight oversupply and gives you a freezer stash.  I use Lansinoh double zipper freezer bags.  Lay flat to freeze, then put those small bags into Ziploc gallon freezer bags in the deep freeze.  I fill one giant bag at a time and just label those #1, #2, etc.  That way, when you go to use the milk, you don't need to hunt for the FIFO date on the little bags.  You can just use any milk from bag #1 (then #2, and so on) to get the number of ounces you need to make up the bottles. 

She followed this plan with me...and see how happy I am!

I followed this plan with Bobo and ended up stopping pumping at 10 months and he was still on 100% breastmilk at 13 months (from me when I was home and from the freezer during the day).  It works well for me.  YMMV. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Why I Hate School

The Supply List for 2nd Grade with annotation by me

1 Pk. Crayola Crayons (Box of 24) OK, that’s reasonable enough.

1-Bottle of Elmer’s White Glue 7.625 fl. Ounces Kind of specific about the brand/size but I bet that’s standard

1-Pink Pearl Eraser OK

1 Pair of Scissors, 5", pointed tip Hmmm, I think ours are 4.75” long with a round tip...for safety

2-Zippered FABRIC School Pouches that will hold supplies, 3 hole with grommets 10"x 6" where in the h-e-double hockey sticks am I supposed to find this?  Is it possible they expect I will be making this myself from fabric and notions...those things are called notions, aren't they? or are they dry goods?  Oh, heavens. 

6-2 pocket solid color (no pictures) folders (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue, 1 green, 1 black & 1 purple (Be sure pockets are on the bottom of the folder (horizontal), not the sides & with the 3-holes punched on spine to store in a binder, i.e. Mead) Alrighty…this ought to be cheaper than Transformers folders...I like the addition of a black folder.  Black, like my heart after reading this list.

1 Yellow highlighter OK, but you better speficy whether you want fine tip or broad tip because chances are I will buy the WRONG one.

1 Box of 12 Erasable Colored Pencils Erasable?!?!?! Do they make such a thing?

1 Ruler, 12” Plastic, inch & cm. Metric is the wave of the future, I hear.

1 dozen #2 pencils I will only buy them in yellow and they must be Ticonderoga brand. Ha.

1 box brand baggies, Sandwich size I bet they don’t even want baggies. I bet they mean Ziploc (and not just regular zippered bags but name brand because every other supply list for the entire school is for Ziploc brand zippered bags)

1 box brand baggies, Gallon size (for headphones) Seriously, he has one pair of ears and will be issued one pair of headphones and he needs a whole box of gallon size bags

2 Large Boxes of Kleenex Tissues Kleenex?!?! We’re a Puffs family or Kirkland or Target.

1 Container (small 25) disinfecting wipes, Clorox or any other brand Okee Dokee.

2-1" inch 3-ring binders (with clear front insert) white colored I think I can find that in the supply closet at work filled with a printed PowerPoint presentation that someone thought was much more important and useful that it actually was.  I pity the reprographics intern who had to collate that worthless presentation that I will now be chucking.

Please limit supplies to those listed above. Also, please check quarterly to see if any supplies need to be replenished. How & when am I supposed to check this? I mean, I am at work when the school building is unlocked. Thanks.