Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Oldest Newfoundland

My oldest Newfie made herself at home on a slight hill in the backyard today, on a bed of dead grass straw, stuffing her face with prunes. The slight hill? I'm pretty sure it's made of years of fallen plums. Her buried 'bones' I guess.

My crotchety old Newfoundland lounging in a straw pile eating prunes.

I quit my day job.

While the decision was a long and sometimes agonizing one, now that I'm on my second week of no longer working on daily deadline as a copy editor at the newspaper, I can safely say that I am quite comfortable, happy, and relieved to have a burden and mornings full of stress lifted. My daughter watches less Sesame Street and we have better quality time together. I am able to develop my business in ways that I couldn't before, and I can meet Mr. Field Notes for coffee breaks.

That's not to say that I don't miss bits and pieces of it. The security of a known-quantity paycheck. Some social interaction. A mainline to news that never shows up in mainstream, online outlets. Yup. That's about it. I'll get used to the fluctuating income, find new social outlets, and find news when I want to.

Business has tapered, but that's the seasonal nature of it. I have a looooooong to-do list of various work and non-work projects I'd like to do, and if it keeps tapering I won't have to juggle 600 things at once. Sweet!

And the best, best part of no longer working at the newspaper is that I get to be politically active again if I'd like to. Very nice. I love politics!

Friday, August 19, 2011

I am thinking about quitting my job.

I am thinking about quitting my day job. There I said it. That instantly makes it more real. It represents, in a small way, a commitment to follow through on something I have been thinking for months now. Over the last eight months, I've enjoyed phenomenal success at the business I started. I'm finally turning a livable profit after taxes, expenses, etc. and it looks sustainable. I have doubts, but I'm willing to ride it out and see where it goes.

Looking into the future has also prompted me to look at the past and how I got here. Sometimes I think it must seem a little weird to those who know I spent a good amount of my life energy in graduate school, toiling away to earn a PhD, to not be using it. Every once in a while someone makes a comment implying it's a waste. I understand where that notion comes from, but to me, it hasn't been a waste. I don't believe I have squandered my education because I'm not a professor, a practicing psychologist, or doing research somewhere.

The truth is, I've had opportunities to go down that path and I've decided not to take them. It's a matter of quality of life. I enjoyed teaching. I didn't enjoy preparing lectures or powerpoint slides. I really hated the rigamarole of publishing research. Conducting research had its excitement, but mostly it was complete drudgery. I enjoyed some grading, and some reading of papers, but I hated developing the tests and assessment measures. In the end, the overwhelming amount of work involved meant I had to make a lot of sacrifices. I sacrificed relaxation. I sacrificed spending time with my family. I sacrificed exercising. I sacrificed having friends. It was awful.

So by choosing to avoid academia, I made a decision to add all of those things back to my life and was successful, at least up until the start of the last 8 months. Along the way, I picked up a job working at a daily newspaper on deadline, designing and editing pages, writing headlines and cutlines. That work was *easy* money. Compared to what I had been doing, and the demands on my brain, ironically daily newspaper deadline work made me feel like a slacker. Right around the time I started doing that to bide my time while I searched for the *perfect academic position* <<<----doesn't exist, I started my papermaking business. When I found the wedding market, and the wedding market found me, things exploded. I started working 80 hour weeks again.

So now here I am 8 months later, right back where I was, working too many hours, losing sleep, not getting exercise, not spending quality time with my family.

I've come to realize that keeping the newspaper job I picked up has become incompatible with my life. So I am think I need to give my notice. Unfortunately this epiphany, if that's what it's called, will come at a really bad time for them. Another newsroom person who played a vital role gave his notice a week ago. Rather than hiring a replacement, they've decided to redistribute his work to other people in the department, and I am one of them. I think that has played a small role in the impetus to do something now rather than later. I just feel bad. Bad because they won't replace me, so my coworkers will e asked to do more work and they haven't been getting raises, benefits have been cut, etc. The newspaper industry is what it is. In a decline. You could say I am fleeing the sinking ship.

I've been working there 4 years now. I think it is one of the longest, if not the longest, times I have spent working for one place. So it's not easy to leave, and I don't really want to because there are some aspects of the job that are very rewarding. A) There is nothing like working on a deadline, day after day, every day. It keeps you sharp. There is no room for procrastination or slacking. It's good to stay practiced at that. B) I love having a mainline to current events. C) My husband and I get to work together.

At this point though, the costs exceed the benefits so my plan tomorrow after I have a long deserved spa day, is to go talk to my boss to let him know. I may do it before I got to the spa so I can decompress afterward.

The bottom line is, I have got to make a change. But also, I am not ready to just completely quit. My hope is that I can convince them to keep me on 1 day a week and then fill in 'on call' and when someone else in on vacation. I don't know if that's going to be feasible for them, but it would be a way for me to keep a foot in the door, keep the quality of life benefits of working there, and allow them to not have to immediately find a replacement or overwork who is left. Should be interesting.

Friday, August 05, 2011

I put the poop in the pot.

Toddler toilet training time....

On a recent well-child check-up, our pediatrician asked if Toddler FN has started toilet training yet. I said not really. We've got a pot. She can pull down her bottoms and pull them back up, knows when she needs to go, tells us most of the time, knows to sit on the pot, but so far has not made the connection about the order of things... He suggested I put the poop in her diaper into her pot so she could see and make the connection. Inside my head I cringed.

Yuck! Then I'll have to clean it. A bunch of times, until she makes the connection. I was thinking at least 6-8 months of toilet cleaning.

I am not enthused about that. But today, I decided upon seeing a solid poop staring me back that it's worth a whirl. Toddler FN was interested. I don't know if she made the connection or now thinks I'm some sort of idiot for adding extra steps to the process... why not just put the poop in the big toilet? Then at least I'd only have one toilet to clean.

The fact that I am writing several paragraphs about poop is evidence of how life has dramatically changed since four years ago when all I was concerned about was multiple regressions and making sure my research was defensible. I'm pretty sure at that time, I thought the rigamarole was crap too. At least I can say I know how to pile it high and deeper!

And, if any reader of this blog post knows how to toilet train with minimal messes and cleaning, please please please tell me.

I got her the chair shown above, on the advice of friends who recommended a kid's toilet that has a lift-out seat you can place over a real toilet, and that ones doubles as a stool when the lid is closed. (Can you tell I have an aversion to calling it a potty chair? Mr. Field Notes *abhors* the word potty so I've been trying really, really hard to never think it or use it...)

I looked at many other toilets and decided that one was the best value, but I didn't consider the splash guard. It seems to get in the way and my daughter doesn't like it. It's not removable either. And the lid closes on her when she leans back, and she does not like that either.

I thought about the Boon toilet, because it looks swanky and I like the TP storage area but the drop zone opening looks too small and you can't remove the seat to transition to the big pot.

The smart bet would be on just leaving the detachable seat from the kid toilet on the big toilet, but the lid doesn't shut and an adult's butt won't fit on it anyways, plus you're left with a place to store it if not in the kid's pot.

Given she doesn't seem to like the kid's pot, I am not really sure what to do, besides look online for one without a splash guard and without the falling down lid problem.

Like I need another thing to do.

What did our parents do? A lot more cleaning and a lot less second-guessing. I'll think I'll start there!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Coming back from vacation is WORK.

If you have to work twice as hard in the 2 weeks after a 2 week vacation, is it really worth it to take a vacation?

That's the question I've been asking myself since I returned home from a grand road trip through FOUR National Parks in Canada. It was a fabulous adventure traveling with a 2-year-old and I am so happy to report that Little Miss Field Notes did not throw up in the car a single time. There were minimal amounts of fussing - remarkable given she had to sit in a car seat for many hours each day.

As for me, I love road trips. And this one we didn't even listen to that much music so there was hardly any singing in the car, and if anyone did, chances were that we'd hear a shout out request for Elmo. There are some great Sesame Street pop music guest appearances with the cheerful red monster man, but Adam Sandler, Katy Perry, Feist, and Will.I.Am get old! So we largely avoided that in the car and just watched for breathtaking scenery and charismatic megafauna like bears, woodland caribou, mountain goats, moose, etc. We saw them ALL! It was fabulous and the bear somehow was larger than I remember them from seeing them as a child.

During slow stretches, we chatted and played word games. Someone suggested what turned out to be a surprisingly hard one. Try thinking of words that end in "ous" alphabetically! Yeah, it sounded so easy at the time but for some reason all of my words sounded like a I ripped them out of the Sarah Palin dictionary. Hopefully I was just tired... but it did make me worry about how my dramatic shift in how I spend my time has probably taken a toll on my intellectual development.

I feel rusty. Really, really rusty. So, somehow I need to come up with a plan for how to stay academically engaged. At this point I suffer from both a motivational problem and a lack of time. Ugh.

I need a plan! (I'll come up with that right around the time I dig out from under about 2 weeks worth of work to catch up on).

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Field Notes Jr - First birthday pic

Close to a year ago, the newfs helped us celebrate the first birthday or the youngest primate of the house. They were even kind enough to wear the hats long enough for a photo. I may have posted this before, but I honestly can't remember how long it's been and how much catching up I need to do on this blog! I also need some inspiration for some interesting academic topics. Maybe I'll cruise my old lecture notes. After all I have a mountain of files just taking up precious space in a corner of the house I am sure Mr. Field Notes would be happy to use.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I'm back!

At long last, I think I may finally feel like blogging again. The long and short of it is that my little home business of making plantable paper really took off over the last year and the last six months it has practically exploded. I'm a work-at-home mama to a toddler not yet two years old, with a part-time job and what has now become an almost-full time business. My daughter has been a handful. Business has been a handful, and I hardly ever have free time to myself. And I really like writing, so I think I will give blogging a try again — to share notes from my new field of full-time papermaking, to share new crafts, new stories, pictures, projects, and to vent about being a WAHM (work-at-home-mom), a totally different bear than SAHM (not that being a stay-at-home-mom doesn't involve work)!

Here are a few snapshots of some projects and a little pic of how much "Baby Field Notes" has grown. We've been having chats lately about whether she's a "baby" or a "kid."

Seashell Plantable Beach Wedding Favors

Plantable Wedding Favors Boxed Kit
"Baby Field Notes"

Monday, May 03, 2010

Window into Working Motherhood

Imagine that while taking a test — which you're doing finally because it is the only time you get to actually think straight because it is finally quiet and you're able to take the test — you are having a sensitive part of your anatomy pulled, tugged, hit, squeezed and bitten.

This is why mamas need a Mother's Day, and back rubs, and meals cooked for them, and houses cleaned, and gift certificates for spa days! Believe me, I am looking forward to the day when mother's efforts are recognized. Part of me wants to just spend the day in bed sleeping without having to do anything baby related. But the truth is, I would miss her.

For the past several months now, my morning routine has been to get up and work around 8am and finish sometimes around noon. I don't use child care; this is partly out of personal choice but also a little bit of necessity. There just isn't a good reason, or a good place to take her if I wanted someone else to watch her for a few hours while I work, so I work and take care of her at the same time.

Usually this isn't a problem, I think, because I have years of practice at multi-tasking and being over-extended and am good at it, but every once in a while — by this I mean once every 2 months — she becomes a nearly unbearable handful.

I think that right now this is related to her being in full on teething mode. She sprouted her first tooth 2 weeks ago. She's a classically 'easy' baby temperament-wise so it really stands out when she fusses. And, OMG, it got so bad one day I put on my gun shooting ear muffs. I use them when I run the blender during papermaking. And sometimes I put them on her when I have to have her nearby while I make paper. I felt bad putting them on just to drown out her fussing, but I just could not work, on a deadline, with all the fussing. I had tried everything else up until that point.

And an amazing thing happened when I put them on.

The distraction stopped her fussing immediately.

She stayed quiet for quite a good amount of time while she studied my new appearance. Phew! What luck. The dogs have been helpful distractions for her, but they're not reliable. They don't perform on command. And I sympathize with her teething discomfort. When I have had endo-related pain I can be a real grump too.

I shall have to log this general 'distraction technique' to memory and bust out other forms of distraction as needed later. Working motherhood is definitely an exercise in creative problem-solving on the fly.