Wednesday, April 30

Great grateful

I read this thoughtful article about being grateful and I thought I'd share a good quote from it (and perhaps entice you to read more about positive psychology):

"Here is what I think: that being grateful for what I have makes me want less. Wanting less makes me consume less. Consuming less makes me treat the planet more kindly. The equation goes, therefore, gratitude equals kindness." -Colin Beavan

Word

"It would indeed be a tragedy if the history of the human race proved to be nothing more noble than the story of an ape playing with a box of matches on a petrol dump." -David Ormsby-Gore

Tuesday, April 29

Picking a pediatrician

We had our first "meet and greet" with a pediatrician today and I thought I'd post some of our questions in case anyone else is also searching for a pediatrician. I'd recommend beginning to ask for recommendations for a pediatrician around your second trimester and meeting with potential doctors in your third trimester. I think that's a pretty typical, by-the-book strategy. (Thanks to Momma Val for reminding us to start the process sooner rather than later!)

We were mostly curious about office procedures and the doctor's philosophy.

How quick are you to prescribe medicine? Do you automatically give antibiotics for ear infections?

How comfortable do you feel giving nutritional advice for vegetarian kids? For vegan kids?

What is your position on circumcision? Do you advise retracting the foreskin to clean?

How long would you recommend breastfeeding? Do you advocate feeding from one side or both per feeding? What kind of help is available for those who have difficulty breastfeeding?

How do you feel about alternative therapies?

And then the more office procedure questions:

How much time is allotted for visits?

How long is the typical wait? How much of it is spent in the waiting room?

How far in advance are you booked for well-child visits?

Who answers patient calls during the day? Emergency calls at night? Do you charge for phone advice?

Maternity leave and how you can get screwed

I could really go for some cupcakes right about now. Or maybe some cinnamon buns. Mhmmm.

It's pouring rain today, much like the pouring thoughts I'm drowning in. Choices, choices. At least they're giving me options, I guess ... bright side, bright side, think bright side.

Maternity leave: they are being a bitch.

Option 1: up to 12 weeks unpaid leave with benefits. I get to send them a check for the amount normally taken out of my paycheck every other week.

Option 2: they fire me. I'm not joking. This way, they explained, I could take more than three months and collect unemployment, but I'd have to pay COBRA meanwhile for health insurance. Taking more than three months sounds attractive, but the math certainly doesn't add up (I would net about $150/month with this option ... and I would have to lie about looking for a job because my work would hire me back). They can technically get away with this because they really are eliminating my job.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that I requested and verbally was given permission for the standard three-month leave many weeks ago, and they are putting this on me now, when I'm almost 35 weeks along. I knew that technically they could do this, but I thought they'd be a little more, uh, humane about the whole process. We definitely don't have this money, and I guess we'll take out more on Hubby's student loan to get through the summer. I'm just not willing to give up those first three months with Fetus. Hubby has already begun searching for a second job (more part-time work), which will make everything more difficult since he has filled his school schedule to more than overflowing for the summer.

As for eliminating my job, they gave me two options post-maternity leave. I can either work full-time in communications with two days a week from home (I asked for three) OR I can be contracted for one year to be a managing editor, which sounds great when I write it like that -- that's a promotion, after all -- but it's without benefits on a career track I'm not too keen on (and a host of smaller issues, like a difficult supervisor).

I haven't made any decisions yet, though I've talked with two different directors trying to push other options. Looking back to the bright side, at least I only have a month or so left and then no mas admin work!

Now can somebody get me a cupcake?!

Thursday, April 24

Word

"It is one of the absurdities of the modern division of labor that, having replaced physical labor with fossil fuel, we now have to burn even more fossil fuel to keep our unemployed bodies in shape."
-Michael Pollan, on working out at the gym, in The New York Times Magazine's April 20, 2008 article "Why Bother?"

Tuesday, April 22

Make your own cleaners from baking soda

I found these recipes for household cleaners based in baking soda. I need to try these out!

What's your Earth Day resolution?

Happy Earth Day!

I'm still formulating a good year-long goal in celebration, but I'm thinking about our trash. We have whittled it down to one 13-gallon trash bag per week, but I think we can do better than that. Composting could be the answer, and it's something I've always wanted to begin. It would be a good first step to my ultimate dream of growing my own organic food.

I also want to start making my own cleaners for the house. I use baking soda right now for the toilet, but other than that I use Seventh Generation and Eco Clean products. I could save money and plastic by making them myself.

Lunch on the Greenway again today, followed by an afternoon midwife appointment; everything's looking good so far. Fetus has a good, steady heartbeat and is head down, feet on my right side. Have to get a Strep B test next visit, and then the weekly appointments begin.

Work overload still, and increasing. I simply won't get it done by the end of the month, when the majority of it is due. I've warned my supervisors numerous times that they've put me in over my head this time, but they haven't taken any action. Heard directors discussing "contract" position at work (read: no benefits) -- which would be perfectly legal since I don't qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act protection. Waiting, still wondering.

This blog I just found (it's mid-May now) has two great posts, one on composting and the other on cleaning.

Monday, April 21

What to do with picky wish lists

I'm eating flaxseed oatmeal topped with raisins and chopped walnuts while shopping online for my nephew's first birthday.

My sister-in-law is such a control freak about birthdays. His wish list includes "touch and feel or noise-making baby books from Babies R Us only." I can understand that he's at that developmental phase for textures and interaction with books, but why does it have to be from Babies R Us? So she can return it easily and get what she wants. She's done this with every holiday, and if she opens your gift and it's not from "her" store, she makes a sour-puss face and doesn't say anything. Yikes! Hope my baby doesn't end up like that.

Not sure how to respond to a gift receiver like that. I used to try to push her boundaries a bit, maybe get a touch and feel book from somewhere outrageous like a museum gift shop, but it's almost not worth it. I've tried not buying her anything, but that's the ultimate no-no (she's very materialistic, so that is a form of not loving her). I've tried handmade. I've tried following her list to a T, and that obviously works best. She's just not open to change and it's easier to comply with people like that than fight it. So I'm looking for touch and feel books at Babies R Us now. Oh the joy of gift giving.

Sunday, April 20

Word

"Sit at the feet of the master long enough, and they'll start to smell." -John Sauget

Due dates: babies aren't library books!

This weekend has been get-ready-it's-coming. On Friday, I opened a package filled with gifts from Momma Val, including a used Brest Friend support pillow, which she highly recommends over Boppy, three beautiful (and oh-so-soft!) handmade swaddle blankets that I just love, adorable knit booties, a pass-it-on bear, and much more. Of course it made me cry. She has given me so much, not only gifts but time and advice. Thanks Momma Val! I really miss you.

I'm listening to Joe Pass and relaxing after two days spent with my mom and sister. It wasn't as tense as their visits usually are, actually, which was refreshing. We went to visit Target, where I haven't shopped in over a year, to make some returns. It was strange being back in a big-box store, especially since the only major chain I frequent is Whole Foods. My mom used her GPS system to find it and I discovered that she talks back to the GPS. The voice repeats "turn left at whatever whatever" when you're almost at the intersection, and my mom will say things like "I know! I heard you the first time!" all pissed off.

(A side note on the big-box store shopping: my goal is to frequent only farmers markets, co-ops, small mom-n-pop stores, etc., but I'm not perfect. Whole Foods. Registry at Babies R Us.)

My mom mentioned next time she saw me I'd be a full-fledged mama and that hit home. They brought up a used Fisher-Price highchair (yea for used baby items!) and the baby's crib. We haven't set up the crib yet, but the highchair is sitting in my kitchen and every time I walk by, I'm reminded of how I'm "in the home stretch" as my sister-in-law put it.

Everyone keeps asking me "how much longer?" and I find that a hard question to answer. Despite appearances, I'm not all-knowing. I usually try to say "Well, I'm almost 33 1/2 weeks now, and a full-term pregnancy is considered anywhere from 37 to 41 weeks." I read this article about due dates and how randomly 40 weeks was determined as a full gestational period. It was also interesting to read because it suggests that an early ultrasound (which I had at 8 weeks because of slight spotting) should not override a known date of last menstrual period. I knew my LMP for sure, but they still changed my due date from May 28 to June 5 based on that initial ultrasound. This could pose a problem if I deliver at 36 weeks according to the ultrasound, because at my birthing center, anything before 37 weeks is an automatic hospital delivery ... but that could be at 37 weeks if they paid attention to my LMP. Same for postterm.

Not knowing when Fetus will make his/her first appearance, I feel my baby to-do list with increasing pressure. The partial list: put together crib and rearrange furniture, final selection for a pediatrician (meet and greet scheduled for next week), write down our birth preferences, fill out birth certificate pre-delivery worksheets, create a mock-up for the baby announcements, come up with all the addresses for the announcements, design baby thank-yous, launder some of the NB and 0-3 baby clothes and some bedding, watch a DVD on the baby sling, clean the used baby books, stock the pantry, dog and cat-proof the baby areas, prepare a diaper bag, order gDiaper liners, organize a breastfeeding zone ... and the list just keeps on going. This, coupled with my hectic work flow at my job and the indecisiveness on my maternity leave, is making it harder for me to relax. I'm trying, though.

So, my maternity leave ... I caught the HR manager printing out a copy of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). That makes me nervous. The act, which to me is a very bare minimum of what a parent should actually receive postpartum, mandates 12 weeks of unpaid leave--and it only applies to companies with more than 50 employees and employees who have been there for more than 12 months. Neither of those apply to me, and I certainly can't afford unpaid leave for three months. I'm astonished that my work might pull this on me, especially now that I'm almost 34 weeks along and I put in my request two months ago. Hubby and I are trying to figure out what we'll do if they make that asshole move for a typical three-month leave. The FMLA needs reform, that's for sure. How can you claim to be centered on "family values" with a policy like that and a horrendous lack of affordable childcare options? I know, family values is just as much a euphemism as the Clean Air Act, but it's pathetic how we can be fooled as a society by titles or marketing phrases.

The Boston Marathon is Monday. I can't believe we've already lived here a year.

Wednesday, April 16

Today, yea

33 weeks.

I want a good picture (read: creative and beautiful) of me pregnant, but it hasn't happened yet. It's finally sunny in the upper 50s out today, and plus I'm having a good hair day, so when Hubby gets home, we're hitting the streets with camera in hand.

Speaking of which, tomorrow night I'll be at the opening of By Way of Broadway: New York Photographs by Cervin Robinson, an art exhibit at MIT of urban photography, while my VCR is hopefully recording King of Corn on PBS.

This was a quickie but I'm a sleepy.

Monday, April 14

The Story of Stuff

I came across this blog, Crunchy Domestic Goddess, through BerryBird's blogroll and decided to watch the video she recommends, The Story of Stuff. It's 20 minutes long, but a very quick download (with a pause button) and well worth the time. As Crunchy Domestic Goddess writes, "Warning: it will make you think." Check out The Story of Stuff.

Some people I will just never understand ...

One of the directors at my job, and sadly, not the one who volunteered the information that I was competent enough to change a template, told us this little gem last week:

"When my house cleaners come by each week, I try to remember to leave them a little something extra ... some more dirty laundry or I'll throw a party the night before or maybe add a couple dishes to the sink. You have to make them work for their money, you know."

I swear, there are some people who I will just never be able to get. How does someone end up acting like that? And how do they not feel positively bad about themselves for even thinking like that, let alone doing it and then bragging about it to your co-workers? If I ever had a house cleaner -- which I wouldn't, but if I did -- I would probably tidy up before they come over so they wouldn't have to work as hard on my house at least. And I'd tip well.

Speaking of house cleaners, I recently finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. I had been meaning to read it for years but I was a little disappointed. It was a good perspective for an upper-middle class professional to air around town to other comfortable middle-classers, but I didn't learn much at all and I don't think she took the financial part of the deal seriously enough.

Sunday, April 13

Word

"Our grammar might teach us to divide the world into active subjects and passive objects, but in a coevolutionary relationship every subject is also an object, every object a subject." -Michael Pollan

Mememememe

I was tagged by whatever girl while I didn't have Internet up and running, so it's late but, hey, they say that's better than never.

The Rules

1. Post the rules before you give your answers.

2. List one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name.

3. At the end of your blog post, tag one person (or blogger of another species) for each letter of your middle name. Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged.

Well, I'm glad my middle name is short now: Lynn.

Learned how to write z in cursive a year later than the rest of the alphabet. My fourth grade teacher thought I wrote a little eccentrically, until she pulled me aside and asked me to write the alphabet in cursive. Ahh, the elusive Z. Which I could use more of right about now ... zzzzzzz.

Yearning to live in a climate where I can grow my own food year-round and afford to spend my time doing so. The city is nice, I love walking everywhere and the free activities ... but why can't I have that in an affordable small town, too? Maybe I belong in Europe or something.

Not digging this whole maternity leave debate going on at my work. Several people are leaving in August, which is around when I'd be back from my three-month leave, so my job may be changing. I requested to work from home three days a week, but their reply seems to be contingent upon what my job description is (which makes sense) ... and yet they aren't addressing the staffing changes yet, so the answer to any maternity and post-maternity leave plans is still up in the air. I'm 32 and a half weeks! Babies don't arrive on timetables! What if I deliver at 36 weeks? Hello! Let's get talking here, Mr. and Mrs. Director People!

Number of pets I've had so far: 26, I think. A Schnauzer that I barely remember, a momma and her kitten named after She-ra that ran away when my mom tried to pack it in a moving box (not joking), a black cat that was given to me for my 8th birthday, two guinea pigs, a tadpole that was nearly a frog when that black cat I just mentioned ate him, two canaries, a dozen fish including several algae-eaters that I loved to watch, an awesome Sheltie, a rat that began as part of my ecology project in high school, and the three animals I get to be with today: a black-and-white cat that was found as a stray walking the halls of my high school in the summer, a beagle/Australian shepherd mix that was abandoned and abused in Memphis, and a black lab mix abandoned in a farm with her brothers and sisters in Kentucky. (I'm not including all the pets that were considered my brothers' and sister's.)

Four people to tag:
Momma Val (haha, she has a long middle name), BerryBird, Nadine, and Dreamy.

Now that I've fulfilled my neglected obligations, I feel better.

Yesterday was sunny for a few hours before a torrential downpour and night of thunderstorms. I didn't get to go for a nice walk like Nadine, but we managed to get the dogs out--sans leashes, which is something we're working on with them (they were both abused and frighten easily, so having control over where they run to when they're scared has been important)--and gave them baths. What does Dixie, the beagle/Australian shepherd mix, do to dry off? Runs into the neighbor's newly planted tulip bed and covers herself in the dirt. Luckily she didn't pull up any of the small green leaves that are beginning to pop up. Sheesh. And you have to picture me, with a big pregnant belly wearing sweats covered in dog hair and soap suds, running after her with the hose trailing behind me and watering my butt without me realizing it. I looked back afterwards and it definitely looked like I peed my pants.

More rain today, but I'm staying inside and finishing reading The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (which I highly recommend, by the way). Mike's brewed some coffee while he works on a MIDI project and it smells delicious ... but I'm not giving in! So far, I've only ingested caffeine by the way of a few bites of chocolate, a chocolate chip vegan cookie my co-worker made me, a chocolate cupcake, and a cup of decaf tea. I'm not sure how long this lack of caffeine will hold up though--I'm pretty sure it won't last through breastfeeding and the early parenthood exhaustion I have been forewarned about.

Saturday, April 12

Can I hit snooze one more time?

I've been so tired lately. My job is still giving me an overwhelming workload. Every time I bring this up with my supervisors, they just shuffle it onto another entry-level professional. (I have one direct supervisor but three bosses ... which is part of the problem. No one knows how much work I actually have, only how much work they are individually giving me to do.) It isn't helpful, since all of the entry-level workers at this job are overworked, and if my supervisor sends Joe Schmoe my mailing job this week, I very well may get his InDesign project from his supervisor that same week. It's all just shuffling and no real action is being taken.

Being pregnant, especially now that I'm in my third trimester, is just contributing to how tired I am too. Although, it sounds like Momma Val has it much worse, so who am I to complain?

There was one day this week that was beautiful, 60s and mostly sunny out. I said screw this to my workload and took my lunch out onto the Rose Kennedy Greenway. I wanted to sit on the grass and enjoy the sunshine, but my body doesn't fold down as easily as it used to, so I sat on a modern (and sterile-looking) concrete slab instead.

I can't wait for spring, real spring. There's already woodpeckers every morning in the tree outside my bedroom window, and small tuffs of green leaves showing up underneath the dead leaves on the neighbor's lawn. Farmers markets, fresh berries, wearing sandals ... !

Monday, April 7

Competent enough for templates

We're all gathered at our weekly informal staff meeting this afternoon and going around the table with updates on what we're working on. A boring, infinitely unnecessary ritual that I think we all keep up for appearance's sake. Around and around we go until it's my turn, at which point I mention that among the mound of work I'm buried under, I have award certificates to do.

"Oh, you do those now?" one of the directors ask.

"Uh, yes. I've done them since I began," I reply quietly.

At which point my direct supervisor announces, "it's just a template."

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I feel very special that I can transform a template at the age of 26, thankyouverymuch. Thank God I spent all that time and money getting a college degree.

Friday, April 4

From So Full of Knit's blog, I tried this:

73 words

Speed test

About time ...

I'm back.

31 weeks pregnant and Fetus is kicking up a storm.

The dogs decided our Internet wireless device was a chew toy all of a sudden, and next thing I know we're disconnected indefinitely as we argue with Verizon over our warranty, discounts, something, anything ... while I understand dog chewing isn't, uh, "normal wear and tear," I have been disappointed with them so many other times that dealing with them again was frustrating. When we first set up our Internet account with them, they didn't send us a bill. After about a month, I, being the true anal-retentive person that I am, noticed and called them up. They responded by saying they would charge us a late fee for this month on next month's bill because I had no excuse for not receiving the bill, since my statement was available online (despite the fact that I hadn't yet set up the account online). Who else would even notice they didn't get a bill, let alone call and complain? I thought they'd say thanks, we'll send it right away. Errr. That was one of several episodes since, so you can see why they're not my favorite company to deal with.

So much has happened that I don't know where to start writing. Gestational diabetes scare, Hubby's composition played by Italian classical guitarist Sandro Di Stefano in concert, a postal baby shower, books read, our cat's new friend, HypnoBirthing classes ... It's a good thing it's supposed to be a rainy weekend. Plus, I feel more inclined to read all of your blogs rather than write in my own--I have to catch up!