I’m molting….

Or at least that’s what I’m calling it.

 

Approx. 3-4 weeks ago, Casa de Thomas was struck by Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (which  is in NO WAY affiliated with Mad Cow Disease….or cows).   We  think it started with M-Man, the weekend of June 21st.  He claims to have been “feverish ” and “not feeling well”…..although he didn’t tell ANYONE, yet proceeded to become the only Thomas to wake-board.

A few days later, specifically, June 24th, T-man came down with a HORRIBLE fever (along with headache, nausea……none of which Advil helped)…which lasted through the 26th.  He wasn’t able to participate in Large-Boston-area College Basketball Camp for those 3 days….so we are just calling his camp fee a “donation” to the athletic department. He attended Friday…..apparently  he declared himself BORED staying at home…but complained about blisters on his feet as we were driving home. I attributed the blisters to the new b-ball shoes we bought.  (and….to put it as politely as possible…..I didn’t really want to look at T-man’s feet —YUCK!)))

Friday, June 27th, Little Guy wasn’t feeling well…..run down and feverish (no other symptoms, appetite is OK)…..couldn’t tell if it was the same as T-man, or just a case of possible exertion/dehydration from the hoops camp.   On Saturday, Little Guy  had a birthday party to attend, and he claimed, and swore up and down, that he was feeling better. (Mom noticed slow movement and lethargy…but who am I to argue???).   Little Guy has been invited to so few parties this year…..I questioned him up and down on “how he was feeling”…..and he convinced me enough to send him to the birthday party.

The following day, Sunday, was Little Guy’s soccer team’s end of the season party.  We all went—big boys too (although begrudgingly).  After the party, Little Guy is complaining about spots/blisters on his hands and feet.  Once we get home, Hubby checks them….yes, Little Guy has red spots and blisters.  So I check out my trusty friend, Dr. WebMD.com, and when I put together “fever” and “spots/blisters”……the answer came up as Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease…….which is typically acquired by children 10 and under, primarily toddlers. [yes–I did the “right thing” and contacted all the parents who went to the party]

You wanna guess what’s happens Wednesday July 2nd????

I come down with a mongo-huge fever, no appetite, advil did ZILCH to take away the fever.  And it flows into July 3rd—-the day we leave for vacation.  Luckily, I am strong-willed enough to “cure myself” to the point where I can make it to the airport.

But the REAL FUN doesn’t begin until July 4th……where I start developing blisters, hot spots, peeling skin….molting….on my hands and feet……which as been going on for 3 fun-filled weeks now.  My feet are raw and tender, and walking (my primary form of exercise) is painful. So much for it being a 10 and under disease.

I have bought myself a $5 bottle of nail polish and given myself a home-remedy mani/pedi, because NO MANICURIST would want to touch my feet.   I spent 3 days putting Neosporin on the tender spots, kept my feet up, done little to nothing.  I take a decent-length walk, and my feet are BURNING in pain.  Today, I went to the beach, the hot sand BURNED my feet, the wet sand scratched my feet, and the cold water felt refreshing. My feet are actually worse now……sigh.

So I sit here and complain trying to figure out how in god’s name I will function with burning feet………

 

One step at a time.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Electronic Devices

I have decided that I have a love/hate relationship with electronics…..especially actually when it comes to my kids.

Up until recently, my kids have not been video-game junkies. They have had Leap Frog game consoles, then we got a Wii, then Nintendo DS.  The Leap Frog and the DS were primarily used for car rides and restaurant trips.  Isn’t it nice to go out to dinner and have the waitress say “What well behaved children you have!”…..only to secretly thank the Japanese for their technology. At home, they have always had a nice mix of TV, books, games, creative play (LEGO, manhunt, pirates, etc), sports.  And some “gaming” thrown in too.  I was never worried or concerned about over-excessive thumb use.

Until recently.

This past Christmas, Santa was so kind to bring each of the big boys an iPod Touch each.

And it has been non-stop thumb work-outs. I’ve tried to set limits.  One hour per day.

They would wake up and play, and then I’d say “OK, one hour is up”…..one would complain that he only played for 1/2 hour (because he woke up later), so I would have to keep track of another 30 minutes. And then they’d go to school, do their homework, and whip out their iPods and start playing again, and get away with it, because I’m busy making dinner….they are quiet….and I forgot about the mornings One-Hour Rule.

And then I would have Little Guy complain “But I didn’t play for an hour!!”…..and sometimes he is allowed to play his bro’s IPT (as it is referred to at our house)…..but sorry, Little Guy…..I consider standing over your bro’s shoulder and staring at the video screen for two hours pretty much the same as actually playing.

And now summer vaca has rolled around.  The first three weeks of their vacation has been pretty tiring (IMO….perhaps it’s just Mommy-Guilt). First week was basketball camp in 90 deg temps, 2nd week was non-stop 5 hrs of flag football camp, and last week was full day (8:30am-4:30pm) YMCA camp.  On top of that, they had soccer team tryouts, Wed. night Summer Basketball, two nights of fireworks, parties with friends.  Seeing how tired my 3 fellas were, I thought being a couch-butt wouldn’t be a bad thing. I  allowed them to play their electronic devices (the DS’s came back into action too….as well as their computer MINECRAFT game). And then I noticed….from 6am til bedtime (while not in camp) all 3 kidlets were on an electronic device.

But then, I realized that it’s summer.  Being stuck inside should be a winter thing.  I asked, requested, cajoled, instructed, and then finally DEMANDED they go outside.  It was as if I was asking them to enter Hades. And the temps aren’t scorching like they are in the rest of the country.  Mid 80’s at best. They would go out for 10 minutes, and come back inside for more thumb workouts. I hope this isn’t the redefined “summer vacation.”  Where are my creative, energetic kids?

Yesterday, we thought it might be a nice day to take the boat out—Hubby’s foot has been doing much better—we gave the kids a choice —go boating or spend the day playing video games (this was a test from Hubby).  T-Man answered….”Dad, we could have the best of both worlds–play video games for the 2 hr car ride up and 2 hr car ride back, and be in the boat during the day.” M-Man (my outdoors guy) ACTUALLY said he rather stay home because he can’t get wi-fi in the car!  The look of disappointment on Hubby’s face was indescribable.

So I have taken away all electronic devices for the entire week.

The car ride up to the lake? One hour of playing car games as a FAMILY, and one hour of reading.  One the way home–one hour of talking about what a great day we had, and one hour of reading/talking/playing. Absolutely fabulous.

This week’s VBS camp is only half-day, 9am-12pm.  Plenty of time to enjoy the fabulous 80 deg, sunny weather we will have this week OUTSIDE PLAYING.

Right now, as I type this….on my electronic device….I can hear the TV on in the other room…but I also hear them creatively role-playing. It is awesome.

I think we’re going to have a great week around here. And in the mean-time, I think the VP is going to have to re-work the Electonic Device Policy.

The Life of a Working Mom

What can I say? It’s been….what….3 or 4 months since my last blog post? I checked my stats before I hit “New Post” and was shocked to see that I still get approx. 14 hits per day.  I was expecting….ZERO.  But I guess that is the Life of a Working Mom….having to make decisions on where one’s time is spent.

Today is my 6 month annivesary as a Working Mom.  And I have the day off!! (HAHAHA)  Somewhat by design…..today is also the boys’ last day of school….and I wasn’t about to give up our tradition of going somewhere fun (their choice) after I pick them up. I am, after all, a MOM first.

Today’s plan….Ice Cream for lunch, and some mini-golf.  Ok…..Ice Cream for Lunch….I guess I do influence their decision a bit.

How have the last 6 months been? Are there any battle scars? Is everyone surviving?

IMO, they have done very well.

In terms of the “flow of the day”…..very little has changed. I take the kids to the bus stop or school…then I go off to work. And I am there either to pick them up from school or the bus stop. [As I feared, Lily was the only one who struggled with the transisiton.] For the most part, the kids didn’t really notice a difference. Their lunches/snacks are put together, dinners remain “normal” (maybe a few more crock-pot meals than I would normally cook), everyone was on-time to their sports games/practices. The only noticable changes are that I would have to sometimes drag them to the grocery store or some other errand after school (whereas a SAHM mom would do the errand while they were all at school), and that on the weekends I would get a pass to go run errands….Target, mall for Bday pressies, etc.

What about sick kids or school activities?

I have to say that my employer has been stellar. Very understanding and accomodating. In the past 6 months, we have had 2 major injuries in this house. First, M-Man broke his arm in February–which required surgery, a hospital stay, and several follow-up appoinments. My supervisors were great about letting me take the time off I needed to help my son.  Then in March, Hubby broke his foot….such a long story….but it required me to take up a bigger chunk of the responsibilities at home….as well as taking M-Man to the Doctor appts that Hubby had volunteered to go to. I will admit, it exhausted and overwhelmed me at times.

And, I have had to make choices. As a SAHM, I attended every school function that I could. And I think if it wasn’t for the time off I took for M-Man’s injury, I think I would have made a greater effort to attend some of the events these past few months.  I chose not to attend any of the boys’ spring concerts. I couldn’t volunteer for field trips. I made a choice to attend T&M’s Yearbook party rather than the “move up to Middle School” ceremony. And there is some Mommy-guilt for sending my kids to camps for vacation rather than hanging out with them and doing stuff (or not doing stuff).  But I counter that with *knowing* that each summer they HAVE attended summer camps for most of the summer (this year, it just happens to be all non-traveling weeks)…Some of them are 1/2 day camps, so that makes me feel better.  And again, my employer is being fantastically flexible in allowing me to work around the boys’ camps schedule.

On the flip side, going back to work has been such a confidence and morale booster. On an almost-daily basis, one of my boys will ask “How was your day, Mom?”  This was not a question that they asked often while I was a SAHM. I have had several of the hiring managers or directors at the agency stop by my desk and say “You are doing a great job” or “Thank you for your suggestion–it worked out great!”  I have stream-lined processes and solved database problems that have plagued the department for YEARS.

I was originally hired through a staffing agency (and actually, am still working through the staffing agency). I was told this was a “temp” assignment, and at some point they would be looking for a FT 40-hour person. They asked how long I could stay on. I was honest—I would/could stay through the school year. I figured I wasn’t going to go through the hassle of arranging camps for my boys on a “maybe” work schedule. At the end of April, I approached my supervisors reminding them that they should probably post the FT job if they intended me to “train” my replacement.   Well, one day, my direct supervisor came in and said…”we love you so much, and our department finally has some stability, I don’t why the 30 hrs can’t continue to work.” She went on a CRUSADE to keep me–she wrote a 2 page proposal and then personally met with all the decision-making “powers that be.” And everyone agreed, “She fits so well….keep her.”

So here I am…..a working mom.

Broken….for a little while

QUESTION: What do you get when you have 3 boys, 2 skateboards, a dog, and a tennis ball all outside in February?

(Sounds like a Horrible combination, eh?)

ANSWER:  An ugly mess that results in a broken arm

Last Thursday, yet another mild winter day for us in Suburban Boston, my children went outside. First it was just Little Guy and M-Man, playing hoops. But things weren’t going so well between Little Bro and Big Bro, so T-Man declared “I’ll go outside to keep the peace!” (Thanks T-MAN!)

Not five minutes later, I hear this God-aweful continuous howling outside. Mommy-instinct KNOWS it’s bad.  I run to the front door and open it, but T-Man is yelling from the Basement “M’s Hurt.” Apparantly, Little Guy was getting back at Big Bro by throwing the tennis ball near where he was skateboarding. And the dog tackled M-Man off the skateboard. (BOYS………..ERGHHHHHH)

I find M, lying on the driveway on his left side, unable to move his left arm (did I ever mention, he’s a lefty?).  I get him to sit up, and I check his arms for swelling, bleeding or bruising, but I don’t see any.  I move him into the basement and get him some ice, but Mommy Spidey-sense is telling me that ice isn’t going to help this one…..He’s still howling in pain. And his elbow is starting to swell.

I pack the kids up and go to the local urgent care. I call my mom to get T-Man and Little Guy since it’s around dinner time, and we all know how emergency rooms can be. All in all, we didn’t wait long to be seen, or have X-rays taken. But the shocker was when the doctor came into our exam room, and without going near M-Man, looks at me at said, “I strongly suggest you take him to Children’s Hospital for evaluation rather than an orthopedic around here.”  EXCUSE ME?

I ask, “What exactly did you see in the Xray that you are sending us to Children’s? Now?”

I didn’t understand his Latin medical terminology, but I did hear surgery and pins. Oh boy. I call my mom and text hubby (who is on a plane back home) that we’re heading into Boston.

Dr. Urgent Care was right. M-Man required surgery to place pins in his elbow as he damaged his growth plate. He’ll be in a cast for 4-6 weeks.

And even with a cast from his knuckles to his shoulder, M-Man still wants to play with LEGO.

Our experiences the last few days reminded me of a few things.

First, M-Man is just an AMAZING kid.  Ok, I already knew that. But my time with him re-affirmed it!  Although at first impact, I’m sure his pain was a 20 on a scale of 1-10, by the time we were asked at Urgent Care, he said it was an 8.  By the time we reached Children’s Hospital, he said it was down to a 6. And after 5 hours in the Children’s ER, he stated it was a 4. And throughout the entire evening….throughout the entire 48 hour stay at Children’s….he was smiling the whole time.  He was such a trooper.  His spirit is awesome (and contagious). A total joy to be around and take care of.

I am also extremely grateful to be living 20 minutes away from one of the best, if not THE BEST, Children’s Hospital in the world.  The level of care and compassion is truly second to none. This is the third time (second for M-Man) that our children have had to go to Children’s. I have so much confidence in the expert care they provide. However, taking a trip to Children’s Hospital can be heart-wrenching–seeing so many children who are sick, or disabled, or need the specialized care that only Children’s can provide. It makes me appreciate so much that my children are strong, healthy, thriving children. THANK YOU GOD.

The next few weeks should be interesting. But M-Man is young, healthy, drinks his milk. And with that great spirit, how could he not heal quickly?

The Return to Work Experience

Because I documented my desire to return to work as well as the details of my job search, I figured I should write about my Return to Work Experience.

Since December 12th, I have been working for a Social Service Agency who aids the Elder community.  My title is HR Administrative Assistant, but my duties are much more of a Recruiting Coordinator. I am happy to report that I was actually able to find an organization that would let me work from 9am-3pm.  For now, this is a temp assignment so it is offering me a “taste” of returning to work–to see how I like it, how I handle it, how it affects the family.

My first 10 days were mostly administrative Grunt-Work—filing, filing, and more filing.  I would have been tasked with data entry, but my supervisor was having problems getting me access into their HRIS systems.  I pretty much impressed/surprised them with the speed and efficiency of my filing skills.  ;>)

I then went away for 10 days for the Christmas holidays, so I consider my “First Day of Real Work” as January 3rd.  My supervisor had fixed the HRIS issue, so I now had the ability to go into the system and update evaluation dates, change of addresses, new job titles.  I was also given the responsibility of handling all the job postings and resume intake, as well as meeting with candidates, sending out offer letters, and much more.

There have been times  when I have wondered if this is actually a 30 hour a week job.  Either it is not, or I am too quick and efficient, or they just haven’t given me the “meat” of the job yet.  I can’t say that I’m being “challenged” but I am feeling very productive. Luckily, over the past 2 weeks, I have been given more and more responsibility and autonomy. My supervisor and the HR Director are *very* pleased with the high level of detail and integrity I show in my work.  I am constantly being complimented, and have been asked to extend my assignment from March until the end of May.

How has my return to work effected our home life?

Well, for starters, I haven’t heard any squawking from the peanut gallery.

My morning routine with the boys is *exactly* the same.  Lily and I take the boys to the bus stop each morning, and she and I go on a quick walk.  Lily gets the raw deal, as her walks are quite short now, and she is home alone for 7 hours.  The boys now take the bus after school, instead of my picking them up.  When the boys come into the house, they grab a snack and start their homework. On occasion, I have to remind them that their “unwind” time was the 30 minute bus ride. And each night, I make a nice dinner for the family–sometimes it’s casual, sometimes I go all out–just like before I worked.

I have done a few 7pm grocery trips during the week, and I have done “full grocery runs” on either Saturday or Sunday.  It doesn’t bother me all that much, but it’s definitely not the same as going to a nice, quiet, relatively-empty grocery store at 9am on a weekday.

What I have noticed, and perhaps this does bother me a little, is that since January, I have done a ton of errands on Saturdays or Sundays in between basketball games, church, or other commitments. When I mentioned this to Hubby, he hasn’t noticed. But I guess this is the reality of a working mom.

I have been able to keep up with housework.  Back in December, I called a couple of housecleaners. One did come for a meet-and-greet, and I played phone tag with the others. I try not to make phone-calls at work, so I say “I’ll call when the boys do their homework.” But I forget, and the next day I kick myself. But just like before I worked, I divide the household chores into different days, rather than cleaning the WHOLE HOUSE in one day/night. And it’s worked for me. But I am HAPPY TO SAY, I finally did another meet-and-greet with a house cleaner, which came recommended by 2 friends….and I really liked her….so she’ll start this week! (YAY!)

Where do I go from here?

Although I am capable of doing more than just administrative assistant work, I am happy that I decided to re-join the workforce in this capacity. I will admit that I very much underestimated the changes–laws, technology, procedures–in the last 10 years.  This has been a great refresher and tutorial all in one.  I know I’m not “manager” material (yet), but I’m looking forward to a bigger challenge.

The HR Director talked to me the other day about whether I would be interested in staying with the company on a “permanent” basis in a full-time role (the role/title/job description is still being ironed out).  As flattered as I was, I had to turn down her offer because I *really* don’t want to work 40 hours.  I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed filling 6 hours of my day with work I enjoy doing, being part of a team, being appreciated….but still able to come home, meet my boys at the bus, help them with their homework, and make a nice meal where we all sit together and share our stories of the day. I don’t want to give that up. I’m very fortunate to be in a position that I don’t have to work 40 hours (or more). And as I told hubby recently, By me returning to work, I am not breaking the family. If anything, I am enhancing the family because it shows my kids that “Yes, mommies are smart too. They can work.” I’m not deserting them for a job. I want to work while they are at school/work, as not to break the balance or the FAMILY WE CREATED.

I am fortunate to be working with 2 very lovely, dedicated ladies.  I plan on working at this agency through the end of May, or longer if they need me. Maybe they’ll change their mind and want to offer me a perm PT position? If not, that’s ok. I have thoroughly loved this experience, the “taste” of returning to work. And I will know what I enjoy doing, and can focus on that, and find something that “fits”.

Here’s to the future!

And then…..there were two…..

This past week, I had 2 interviews (shocking, huh?)–both for PT HR Assistant positions.
On Tuesday I was contacted by Staffing Company (whom I had spoken w/ back in Sept/Oct).  They had a position in a nearby town. The company is a  family run operation. The company has a Recruiter who handles all the hiring from point A to point Z, and a Payroll Person, but were looking for someone to take care of all the other HR Paperwork.  This would be a temp-to-perm position.   Staffing Company told me that they sent someone w/ 15 yrs of HR Experience, and the Company folk would say “Nope, Too much experience”….and hence, my resume was pulled up (the exact opposite!! HAHA!).  The interview (on Wednesday) went GREAT! I was “ON.” I liked the small office feel, got along great w/ the president and VP whom I interviewed with.  I was told they were looking to make a decision by Friday, so someone could start next week.
Also on Tuesday, I found a posting on Craigslist for a PT HR Assistant position through HR Staffing Company (one that I had been “afraid” to contact due to my bad experience with the snooty HR Staffing Company).  The position is only a 2-3 month contract position, someone to do the paperwork while they find a new HR Manager  (one recently left…”it didn’t work”).  Instead of emailing my resume, I called HR Staffing  directly.  (BTW, I contacted them 10 minutes after the posting was placed on CL!). I was put through to the recruiter’s VM. HR Recruiter called me back w/in 30 minutes. We went over my background, she wanted me to add a couple of things to my resume, and she was excited (!) to pass my resume along to her client, which is a local non-profit agency.  She scheduled an interview for Friday, and she wanted to meet with me in person, at a coffee shop near her client (meet me F2F to make sure I was presentable, I guess!). HR Recruiter and I hit off so well.  She was understanding, supportive, excited for me….my cheerleader.

For a couple days, I was going back and forth with hypotheticals–aka, what if both companies wanted to hire me, which would I choose? They both paid the same, both positions were nearly identical, the commute is nearly identical, I felt comfortable with both sets of people/offices. It came down to:  TEMP  or TEMP-PERM. With the temp job, it would be a good “feeler” for returning to work–for me, the boys, and especially Hubby. And it would provide me with “recent” experience to put on my resume.  But, I would be back in the “job hunt” in a couple of months.

Anyway, the interview on Friday also went well.  I called HR Recruiter after the interview to tell her how it went. She sounded excited, and said she would send an email to her client to get their feedback. Within 10 minutes she called me and said I got the job, if I wanted it!  I said YES–primarily for the reasons stated above, but also because I felt that HR Recruiter and I established a relationship and she went to bat for me, which I very much appreciated.

Starting this week,  I will be a (temp) HR Assistant at a local non-profit!!! The hours are 9am-3pm, so our lives shouldn’t be too much out of balance.   I am super excited.  As are my boys!  Hubby seems supportive too.

I can’t wait….and I will keep you posted on how things go!

I am Thankful for……

My husband who loves me. He has given me so much. Thank you.

My children who make me smile and remind me to remain young at heart. (yes they also test my patience and give me gray hairs, but I am thankful for that as well).

My mother….although  I can’t explain or understand why she does things, deep down I know she acts out of love.  And I’m lucky to have a mom.

My extended family and friends.  No matter what the problem, you are there for me.

Especially my BF-M and my quasi-cousin/sister A……who are *always* there for me….to share the tears and the joys. I am thankful we can just “be” ourselves and be there for each other.

For my SIL B–who *always* offers thoughtful advice….because she has “already been there.” She lets me know that I am not alone.

I am also thankful for FB—-being able to find so many “lost” but not forgotten friends.  I am thankful you are back in my life.

Our beautfiul house, our many travels, our fun toys, our loving pets.

Our health. I cannot say how fortunate we have been with our health. Thank You God.

This wonderful country that we live.  We have freedom. We have a say. Although the government is falling apart, when things hit the fan, the people of America know how to come together for a common cause.

Our military. Thank you for risking your lives to protect ours.

================================================================

And the other members of Thomas Inc……

T-Man is thankful for the food we get to eat.

M-Man is thankful for our home and family.

Litte Guy is thankful for Lily and soccer.

Hubby is thankful that we are all healthy, and for his loving, caring family.

Miss Lily is thankful for her tennis balls and that her family bought her a sweater for the cold weather.

========================================================

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!