Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stay Off the Roof

On Friday I had taken Haikey to daycare, gotten myself cleaned up and was getting ready to head into town when I got a call from my husband. He had fallen from the roof of a shed and was in severe back pain. I got there about two minutes later (I was already in the car), and he was on the phone with 911. He was taken by ambulance to the ER, where we learned that he has compression fractures in three of his lumbar vertebrae.  We came home this morning after two nights in the hospital, and Nick will be on bed rest for six weeks. Basically he can get up with a brace and a walker to go to the bathroom and eat.

It will be a long six weeks. But hopefully at that time he will be fully up and running. And considering he fell from a roof, it could be so much worse. So we're counting our blessings and changing our plans.

And I'm clearing my social calendar for the next six weeks (not that tough). But on week seven, if you are holding a bottle of wine you should watch out - I will not be responsible for my actions.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One Year

Exactly one year ago today, I was starting to realize I really was in labor (technically my water broke very early in the morning, but all morning and part of the afternoon was pretty pain-free). That means today has marked one year since I've become a mom. And I've learned some things.

  • When moms say they don't even remember their baby as a very new infant, they really are telling the truth. 
  • Sleep is the best thing ever. But sleeping with a baby is the very best thing ever. 
  • You really will worry every time something is wrong. Even if it's something minor. You're that person. 
  • You'll cry when you go back to work. You'll move on and become a productive worker again, but those first few days suck. 
  • The baby really will be fine. Most of the choices six of one, half dozen of the other.
  • If you stress out, so will the baby. This does not make not-stressing-out any easier. 
  • You'll become someone who gets sad and/or cries when something happens to a fictional baby on TV. 
  • You only have to become part of the mommy wars if you want to be. When in doubt, stay off the damn Internet. 
  • Make time for other people. Your friends, your family, and especially your spouse. This may be harder than it seems, but it's vitally important. 
  • Babies reach milestones on their own time. Don't compare your kid to others. This is difficult. 
  • You really will use a baby voice. So will everyone else you know. 
  • You will love that baby more than you thought you ever could. 
  • You may love being pregnant, and you may love the child growing inside you. But once the baby is actually born and becomes a real person, it's a whole new ballgame. 
  • Oh, and those first weeks after the baby is born are uncomfortable bordering on painful. Cabbage leaves in your bra will help. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Job Hunting

When I got my last job at DealChicken, I was looking for a job while working full time and raising a baby. My original goal was to find a job before returning from FMLA, which I did not achieve, but I got the job before I cracked (I loved my Tastefully Simple peeps, but the commute was killing me).

When I found out I'd be laid off, I again started job hunting while working and being a mom. I had about two months' notice before my layoff. I had one interview before my job ended, but that company decided to go with an internal candidate (which, all things being equal I think is the right choice - so I can't be too bitter).

Last week was my first week of unemployment. But I had decided to give myself a week without looking for a job full time - which turned out to be the right move, as first Hailey and then Nick and I got the flu. But I did send out one resume, and I have an interview scheduled for tomorrow. I don't know a lot about the job, and I think it may be more of a commute than I'm excited about, but we'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, tomorrow also starts full time job hunting, as well as applying for freelance jobs. My laptop is back to life, so writing samples are available. Ideally, I have freelance to keep myself busy three days a week until August, and then I return to a full-time gig. I have no clue how realistic that is, and I'm committed going with the flow. So wish me luck - Both tomorrow and the rest of the summer.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Books: The Passage

The Passage 
By Justin Cronin

The Passage is the story of a government experiment gone horribly, gruesomely wrong. In the quest to get closer to immortality, the government experiments with some bats found in the tropics. They eventually get a virus that extends life. And as is so often suggested, they start to experiment with death row prisoners. And one little girl who seems to be abandoned. The virus does indeed extend life, but in return it turns the affected into vampire-like creatures. 

The action skips around in time and place. It starts before the virus is found, skips to when it is truly becoming viral, and then skips about 100 years in the future. There's a sprawling cast of characters, including the girl, several of the death row inmates, the FBI agents who recruit them for experiments, a colony of survivors, a military unit, and many others. I'd say the girl, Amy, is the protagonist. 

The Passage is the third book in a planned trilogy. The sequel, The Twelve, is available now. The third book is not yet available.

Did I like it? No. This book is over 700 pages long. Not a problem in and of itself, but this particular novel draaaaaaags on. And on. And on. It's aiming for Stephen King with the character development and the basic plot, but it falls quite short (and I'm not a huge King fan). As the book drew to a close, I kept wanting it to just be over already. I'd basically stopped caring what happened.

Did it pass the Bechdel test? Yes. Some of the action happens in a convent. And on more than one occasion the female colonists converse. Little of the conversation is about men. And Amy, who is about 12, does not even think about men or boys. In a vampire novel, no less! Also interesting to note is that the men are as likely as the women to worry about their relationships.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Applying for Unemployment

Today I applied for unemployment benefits. I've never done this before, or even thought I would. I graduated from college 10 years ago, and I've gone to work every day since until yesterday. So today I apply for the benefit.

The actual application took about 20 minutes online. For Minnesota, the site is And I'll have to fill out what I assume is a condensed version of that form every week until I get a job. My weekly benefit will be direct deposited into my bank account (there's also an option to receive a debit card). I was able to estimate my benefits a few weeks ago by submitting my Social Security Number online, and the benefit estimate I got today is the same amount (the final amount will be mailed to me once everything is analyzed). The actual amount won't be disclosed here, but it's based on 2/3 of my income over the past 18 months. And although no one will be jealous of my income, it's enough for us to get by.

How does the application make me feel? The form itself was pretty direct. It was eye-opening how much the system already knew about me - although it did list a company I've never worked for as a former employer. There's no reason I should feel guilty about receiving these benefits, and I don't. I've looked for a job since I knew I would be laid off, and I will continue to do so, along with finding little ways to make extra money in the meantime. When I took the job at DealChicken, I intended to work there for a period of several years. This is a blip. Hopefully I will be employed again soon.

Of course, there's not benefits outside of money - we've had temporary insurance since I left Tastefully Simple, and we will continue to have that until I find a job (but that's a story for another day). If TV is accurate, at one point you had to actually go to an office and meet with a caseworker to collect your benefit. I'm glad I don't have to do that.

Stay tuned for more adventures in unemployment. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Books: Suicide

by Edouard Leve

Suicide is the written account of how a man remembers a friend who has committed suicide. The two men seem to have been friends from childhood. It's close to a stream-of-consciousness memoir, where the narrator shares memories of his friend, speculated on things the friend would have liked, and ruminates on life in general. The friend left no note, so "why" is another common theme.

It's a short book. There's an afterword explaining that Leve famously committed suicide just days after turning in the manuscript. He also left no note, so the book is often read by those seeking to understand what may have caused him to take his own life. I was unaware of the biographical note until after I had finished the book.

Did I like it? This one is a toughie. But yes ... lots of naval-gazing, and the anonymous nature of the narrator and the friend prevent any fully realized characters. But the concept is interesting, it's well-written, and there are some interesting points made.

Did it pass the Bechdel test? No. No dialog.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Layoff Plan

I haven't been successful in finding a new job. I just had my exit interview at my current job, which means as of Monday (or Saturday, depending on how you look at these things) I join the ranks of the unemployed. Scary, as I've never been there before.

Since I have a great tendency toward inertia, I need to have a plan for what exactly I'll do when I don't have a job to go to every day. Obviously I'll continue looking for jobs, and I plan to do freelance writing as well (so, you know, if you have any opportunities please send them my way). It will also be nice to have the summer to spend with Hailey - she'll still go to daycare a few days a week so that I can do freelance stuff and maintain my sanity (and I think daycare is good for kids), but we'll be home together quite a bit. Considering I was on FMLA last summer, we have a good groove of mommy-baby summers together. :)

But ... there are some things I want to accomplish while there are fewer demands on my time. Here's a partial list ... which will be added to as things come up.

  • Take Hailey to visit my grandma in southern Minnesota (they've been together at a wedding, but we haven't actually made the trip yet - yikes)
  • See my friend Jen in Fargo (she works in Alexandria once a week, so that may be where we meet up)
  • Help my parents move, and probably help my mom with events this summer
  • Lose some weight and get in shape enough to take a long bike ride with the baby trailer
  • Thoroughly clean the house - and get rid of crap
That's a short list. I'll also be helping my mother-in-law with her business while they're on vacation, doing house stuff/lawn maintenance, helping my sister with her kids when she has no daycare, and helping Nick put up the shed. But I need some concrete goals so it doesn't turn into a summer of me on the couch watching Live with Kelly and Michael (don't judge). Hopefully I am soon employed!

Anything I should add to the list? 

Sunday, May 5, 2013


It's Sunday night, so that makes it a good time for a recent recap, right?

  • Clutter-busting challenge: Yesterday was actually clean-up day in the township, so that was a gimme. And we got rid of some electronics that had been stashed in the guest room as well as the bedroom TV we never watched. So far nothing has gone out today, but there's still some time. And Hailey opened a cupboard I had sort of forgotten about, so there's a new place to mine for crap. So far calling it a win. 
  • Employment update: No call from Tuesday's interview. Thank you cards were sent promptly. I feel like either I was who they were looking for, or I wasn't and there's not a lot I can do about it. Job ends Friday, so if that doesn't pan out I'll be doing the at-home mom/freelance thing. Either way has perks. 
  • Hailey's birthday party is next Saturday, and today we started shopping. Yikes! But there are many condiments that will be left over, so we're set with mustard all summer. :)
  • There's a thing on my leg. Either it's a wart or it's something scary. Poor/no insurance does not make it appealing to get it checked out, but I probably need to. Maybe I can have the doc look at it when I take Hailey in for her one-year shots? 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Clutter-Busting Challenge

I follow for ways to save money and occasionally for recipes. Each month, she posts a challenge to her readers ... getting up earlier, filling the freezer with ready meals, various cleaning/organizing tasks. I've never before taken part in a challenge.

But in May I'll be participating in the Clutter-Busting Challenge. As I look at the clothes in my closet that will no longer fit, the box of stuff from my old job that's not even unpacked yet, and the who-knows-what stuffed in our guestroom closet, I realize there's a lot of crap around the house we could do without. The challenge is pretty simple: get rid of seven items per day. I'm shooting for 20 days participation in order to give myself a break. We'll see how it goes! I may or may not post pictures here of the items I am getting rid of. It won't be much for baby stuff - we may have more kids, and those kids may be girls. But there's plenty of useless junk around!

Update: Below is my throw-aways from day 1 (note that not all seven items each day need to be garbage). Box for a waterpik we've had for years, assorted hair products I don't use, contact solution (none of us wear contacts) and some other crap. All from the bathroom. I feel like this will be a piece of cake.