Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Job news!

(Okay, using too many exclamation marks these days. My bad.)

I am very excited and very nervous right now. Yesterday I accepted a job offer.

Aaaaaaand fast forward about five weeks. It's July 30th. I am in my third week of work at NewJob. Very happy with the job so far. Lots of work, and really, it's the complete opposite of what I said I wanted. It is full-time (and more), full-on, right in high-tech. Not part-time, less stress, etc. I didn't even apply to this job or company. They found me, I decided to find out more, went through a few rounds of interviews, and they made me an offer I couldn't turn down. The opportunity for growth in this job was irresistible to me. So I accepted.

We're also moving to a new city. NewJob is located too far from our current house. Mr. Chili is going to be able to work from home in NewCity, so we're good there. The amount of change happening for us right now is staggering. Right now I am living in corporate housing (a nice townhouse) with Pepperette. Monday to Friday, we do our thing - she goes to daycare, I go to work, in the evening we go house shopping and after she is asleep, I do all the lunch prep, dinner prep, laundry, work, etc. On Fridays, we head back to our suburban house and to LC and Mr. Chili.

Back at the homestead, Mr. Chili has been working to get our house ready to sell. Lots of work - had the interior of the house painted, new carpet, bathroom updates, decluttering, etc. In the meantime, Mr. Chili has also had lots of problems to solve at work, taking away from his time to do house stuff. Add to that that Mr. Chili also had to go to Europe for two weeks on a business trip and - hoo boy - do we have a lot goin' on.

Thank goodness for my mom & MIL. They have been tag-teaming to take care of LC during the week while Mr. Chili has been away. LC goes to summer camp during the day, so the moms only have to manage mornings, dinner and bedtime. We are very lucky to have a supportive family.

As for the job, I am very happy with it. There is a lot of energy, my job is very interesting, the project I'm managing is cool, etc. I have to be very conscious of my work/life boundaries, so that work doesn't spill over and take over. It's easy for me to get sucked in because of my personality. Fortunately, I have to pickup Pepperette around 5pm every day, and I'm on my own (with Mr. Chili still at the homestead), so I'm forced to leave my desk and focus on other things.

I am trying to really embrace all this change. To tolerate the chaos and even thrive in it. By the beginning of September, we will all be living in the same town, Pepperette in daycare, LC at his new Montessori school, Mr. Chili working at home and me at my NewJob. We're close to buying a house in NewCity too. (And man, do I have some good house stories. People are just strange sometimes.)

It won't be a month again. Promise! I'll be back in a week or less.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Wow. What a hail storm we had today.

I was nursing Pepperette for the umpteenth time (she is getting over a stomach virus). The sky got dark and it started to rain. Suddenly it got really, really loud. I ran downstairs and took some pictures and video. I wanted to capture the noise of the hail. I even grabbed a few hail stones and put them in the freezer for LC to examine when he got home from school. It wasn't golf ball sized hail as reported in some areas, but I'd say it was 2.5cm. The funny thing is that we were talking about weather, specifically hail, this past weekend. I said it had been a long time since I had seen hail. I didn't realize I was putting in a request. Amazingly, Pepperette slept through the whole thing.

Front yard covered in hail stones

One shredded Hosta

The Hosta that survived (sheltered by the garage)

Unfortunately the house and car were damaged. The siding in the front and side of the house look like someone took a ball-peen hammer to them. The roof of our car looks the same. The trim on the front of the house is damaged too. Ugh. I'll have to call the insurance company tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More proof that motherhood has changed me

This morning was not. fun. It was the kind of morning that would have left me in an extremely bad mood in my former life, before I was a mom. But this morning? I shrugged my shoulders and kept moving. And after I dropped the kids off? I breathed a sigh of relief. I am actually pretty cheerful right now. Shocking.

So what happened? We all slept in. (Good - mmmm sleep. Bad - everyone is late.) LC was in a good mood for about five nanoseconds, then he was a total PITA*. It was a battle to get LC dressed, Pepperette was in a great mood but took forever to eat her breakfast. Oh, and how could I forget - LC had a (thankfully rare) accident this morning and peed through his pjs, the sheets, the waterproof pad, duvet and duvet cover. The only dry things? The pillows. Oh boy - more laundry! And it was garbage/recycling day, so there was the usual scramble to get the kids out of the house and getting the garbage out before the truck came. (Damn them and their variable schedule! One week they don't come until after lunch, the next week they come at 0800.)

Like I said, now it's mid-day. The house is quiet and I am working on my job search. Or writing blog entries. *ahem*

*PITA = Pain In The Ass. It's a great acronym. We love PITA bread around here. I wonder how long til the kids catch on...

This article? It describes my life.

I've written before about my desire to find a job that allows me for better work/life balance. How I don't want to work 50-60 hours a week every week. How I love being a PMP and P.Eng, but how hard it is to work in high-tech and be the kind of mom I want to be.

So I shouldn't have been surprised to read this article. It talks about how women between the ages of 35-40 (check) are leaving science/engineering/technology jobs in record numbers, despite the fact that they are getting outstanding performance reviews (double check) and love their jobs (triple check). Why? Because many of them are also moms and they are tired of working crazy hours. They are also tired of the "wearying atmosphere of sexism" (quadruple check). Oh yes, how I can relate. In my work years, I have put up with all sorts of sexist crap, none of which I did anything about. I'm not proud of the fact that I let it slide, but it felt like the only choice. Did I want to be blacklisted? No. So I shut up, laughed it off and got my work done.

I don't know whether to feel validated or sad that this is a common problem. I think the quote that summed it up for me is this, "The workplace culture is like a time warp," says Dr. Sherbin, director of research at the Center for Work-Life Policy. "It's 20 to 30 years behind other workplaces."

How true.

New look

Finally changed my blog template. I hated the light font on dark background. I realized how user-unfriendly it was. So here is a new and sadly, generic, look. I also still can't get my flipping blogroll to show up.

Ah well, at least one thing is improved.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Back to normal

Overall, things are pretty good right now. My thrush flare-up has subsided. The culprit? I eliminated a spelt bread made from sprouted grains (as opposed to yeast). I was able to tolerate it before, but I guess Pepperette and I ate too much of it. That and other mystery factors that I just cannot figure out. Hormones? I dunno. It took both of us stopping eating the bread, eating lots of unsweetened 6% milk fat unsweetened yogurt, and about a week for the pain to subside. I'm back to "only sore occasionally", which is a blessed relief after the intensity of the pain. I won't even get into how f'n frustrating the constant flare-ups are.

Pepperette is still *this close* to walking. A few days ago she started free standing. She stands there, wavering, looking like a surfer hanging on for dear life. And then boom!, she loses it and either falls on her bum or catches herself with her hands. It is way cute.

LC started his second season of soccer and he had a pretty good time the first week. The second week? Not so much. He only played for about 1 minute, then he tripped and that derailed the rest of the game. He sat on the sidelines with his team and refused all attempts to get him back on the field. *sigh* I hope next week is better. I'm not having crazy expectations - all I want is him to run around, chase the ball, listen and have fun.

The job search is progressing. I think. I had a phone interview this week, which went well and I'm hoping to get an in-person interview next. I also completed a pre-screening interview and am waiting to hear if I'm going to get an interview for that. Then there are a couple of other things in the works. Gah. I just hope that something happens soon.

I met an old friend today for tea. We were best friends through high school and university, but started to drift apart a few years after uni. Then we completely lost touch for a few years. I had tormented myself with guilt that I sucked at friendship and that it was my fault. But I was too chicken to pick up the damn phone, so I just kept shoving the guilt away when it resurfaced. Then by fluke, I ran into her about a month ago after a race. We talked and it was great. I phoned her a couple of days later and we talked some more. Today we met for tea and chatted some more. I know that we are unlikely to be bestest friends again - we live too far apart, have completely different lifestyles, etc. But we are friends again. And I will do my part to keep it going this time. It feels good in a way I can't articulate to be talking to her again.

Last week I finally phoned another old friend from high school. She has been calling me for a *embarrassed cough* year. And I never called her back. I can't fully explain why. Other than the generic "I suck". (And I am so good at putting myself down. I've made it into an art. An art that I am trying to STOP PRACTICING.) The longer I let something go, the worse I feel, and the harder it is for me to make myself fix it. All I had to do is call her. She is a wonderful, forgiving person. So I finally did. And we talked for over an hour. I don't know when I'll see her again, but dammit, we have reconnected again. And that too feels good.

So we're doing pretty well here. Other relatives? Not doing as well. I am struggling to figure out how to help and support our loved ones. Because:
  • my sister is having a partial knee replacement this week. She will be in the hospital for a few days, then recuperating at home for a few weeks. And my mom won't be here. She has unbreakable plans. So I feel a double obligation to help my sister - run errands, take her food, etc. She has a wonderful husband and son, and they are capable, but I want to (need to) help. She lives an hour away from me.
  • my stepmother started chemo this week. She is handling it well so far, but it is a tough treatment. She lives an hour away, same town as my sister.
  • my MIL is having a major recurrence of inflammatory arthritis. She feels really poorly and is having other (unbloggable) problems. And she lives an hour and a half away, north of us.

Add to this the fact that Mr. Chili is going on another business trip, this time to the U.S. for a week. I feel relief that the trip is only a week, akin to how I imagine it feels to go from slamming my face into a door, versus closing said door on my foot. Boy, closing the door on my foot feels so much less painful.

Somehow I will manage to keep our house in order, find a job, take a care package to my sister and stepmom and gah, I don't know what else.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mostly good, some not.

It's hard to believe that Mr. Chili came home over a week ago. It is so good to have him home again. And not just because he does stuff and helps. I really missed his company, his good sense, his hugs. (I'd say I missed sex, but I'd be lying. It has been a ridiculous length of time since we last had sex. We both want to, in an abstract, wouldn't-it-be-nice kind of way. But man, by the time the kids are asleep and the hockey game is over and I'm finished with blogging or job searching...well, it just doesn't happen.) We don't connect much these days. I'm finding it tough to maintain our husband-wife relationship while parenting these two kids. We've got to work harder at it.

We've had a few lovely family moments since Mr. Chili came home.

Last Wednesday we all went for a walk in the light rain. Mr. Chili had Pepperette in the backpack carrier covering them both with a large golf umbrella, I had Cosmo (our dog) on leash with an umbrella, and LC skipped on ahead carrying his own perfectly size yellow umbrella. We only went around the block, and there was some whining (from LC), but it was still wonderful. A sweet moment of togetherness.

Yesterday afternoon, we just relaxed and hung out in the front yard. LC played with the girl across the street, Pepperette rode up and down the sidewalk on a hand-me-down riding caterpillar, and Mr. Chili our neighbour and I stood around chatting. It was a gorgeous day. It was a cliched slice of suburban life, I suppose. But it is my cliche and it was wonderful.

Pepperette has been doing all sorts of new things - she can climb the stairs likety-split now. She is very close to walking, which is so much fun to watch. She consistently nods her head for yes and shakes it side to side for no. She is very good at communicating what she wants at mealtime. She doesn't have any teeth yet - almost 15 months old and no teeth. At what point does one start to worry about that? She doesn't really have any distinct words or even sounds that we can associate with objects. A bit of babbling, but that is it. No worries, she's doing just fine.

We're all adjusting to life without Boomer. I really miss him. I constantly see him out of the corner of my eye. I am more confident now that I did the right thing by having him euthanized. We've given away all the cat food and cat litter. It will be a while before we get another pet, I think.

And finally, I am having the worst thrush flareup since last summer. Since I started this diet. I can't figure out what set it off, why it is so severe and how to make it stop. It's okay on the left side, severe on the right. To the point that when I latch Pepperette on the right side I have to bite really hard on my finger so that I don't yell out loud. Having pain somewhere else helps offset the pain in my nipple. My neck and shoulder are wrecked because of the tension everytime she nurses. The only thing I can think that is causing the continued flareup - and I've been dealing with this severity for over a week now - it the spelt bread we were both eating. We ate a lot of it over the time Mr. Chili was gone. It's a sprouted bread, as in non-yeast. It is supposed to be safe for anti-candida diets. I wonder if we just ate too much. I eliminated it from my diet, but it's about the only thing Pepperette will eat for breakfast these days, so she is still eating it. I'm going to eliminate it completely from both our diets and hope that it helps. I am so fucking sick of this.

I am sick of the constant restrictions on what I can and cannot eat. I am tired of trying to introduce new things and getting slammed by a flareup. I am tired of following the restrictions exactly and still having flareups. Whine, whine, whine.

"Why don't you wean Pepperette?" you might ask. Good question. I have thought about it, but never seriously considered it. No, I am not a martyr or a masochist. However, breastfeeding is a really important part of how I want to parent my kids. Also, I nursed LC until he self-weaned at 2.5. I want to offer Pepperette the same opportunity - to nurse until she is ready to stop. Also, I don't know how I would handle early weaning. Not well, I suspect.

For now, I will carry on. Dreading the next nursing session for the pain. Frustrated with the restrictions. Hoping that this will all be worth it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I love Fridays!

Especially this Friday. Because tomorrow Mr. Chili comes home from overseas, from what felt like the longest business trip ever, but was in fact, two weeks long.

We have (nearly) survived. The kids have dealt with his absence remarkably well, and I am still upright. I am exhausted because neither kid has slept well since daddy left. That and managing the household and job searching and parenting is a lot for one person to do. Oh, and all the crises that happened...

In no particular order, please allow me to whine about the crap that has happened over the past two weeks:

  • Aunt Janet died. Couldn't go to the funeral - was not going to attempt to drive to Michigan with two kids by myself

  • Boomer died. He was euthanized at the vets. (I hate the expression "put to sleep".) Worse, I had to make the decision myself. One of the hardest things I've ever done.

  • The washing machine died. Seriously? Seriously. There is nothing quiet like taking your washing machine apart at midnight, after the kids are asleep and lunches are made, in an effort to a) determine if the machine can be repaired and b) save yourself $100 to hear that it can't be fixed. The answer? Not worth repairing. My 7.5 year old piece of shit Frigidaire (I will post the model number later) is dead. So, hey, sure, let's spend a thousand dollars we don't have on a new machine. 'Cause spending money is awesome when you're unemployed! Oh, and as an added bonus? You get to waste time at the laundromat washing loads of clothes! And there is the joy of shopping for a new washing machine with two small children and the challenge of trying to have a discussion with a salesperson.

  • New washing machines are very expensive. The best option - as in cheapest well-reviewed machine by Consumer's Reports is a) a Frigidaire (see bullet above for how much I love them) and b) is not cheap. $1000+ later, we are going to have a new LG machine.

  • My wedding present from Mr. Chili - a lovely Australian opal on a white gold chain - broke. Snapped after it got caught on something. I hope it can be fixed, but I was very sad.
  • My job search was pretty much non-existant for the past two weeks. I am feeling stressed over how little progress I have made towards finding gainful (paid) employment.

Should I be worried that #2, 3, 4 were all acquired around the same time? What's next? All our appliances, the dog and my marriage were all acquired/started 7.5-ish years ago. Or is that three things and we're done? I have no idea. I'm feeling slightly hysterical. And only kind of joking. I mean, I've heard of the 7 year itch, but this is getting ridiculous.

Putting it all in perspective, when I write it down, it doesn't seem that bad. For all these bad things that happened, everything else went okay. I had a lot of help from my mom & stepfather as well as my MIL. We went to a friend's house for dinner/playdate one night and one night we had another friend & kids over for dinner/playdate. I took the kids to the zoo for a member's only preview of Stringray Bay. LC was pretty stoked about touching a real live stringray. We visited my mom a couple of times. I took lots of pictures for Mr. Chili and put them on a web album so he could see what we were up to. Which was fun for me, using the camera more, taking pictures way more often than I normally would.

Not to be all cliched or anything, but Mr. Chili's absence has made me stretch and grow. I had to figure out how to put both kids to bed when I was alone. I had to figure out how to get things done. I found my groove as a single mom. I don't want to continue, thankyouverymuch, but I know that I can do it.

Random notes related to the death of a pet

Book recommendations for a child who's pet has died:

  1. "The Tenth Good Thing About Barney " by Judith Viorst

  2. "When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death" by Laurie Krasny Brown (Author), Marc Brown (Illustrator)

  3. "Let's Talk About When Your Pet Dies" by Marianne Johnston

The Tenth Good Thing is really good. To be honest, I sat in the library reading these books, crying. They all made me sad. I think the tears are cathartic.

The experience:

I had cuddled with Boomer before we left for the vet. I just held him and talked to him and apologized. He purred a bit, but mostly just laid in my arms, allowing me to pet him behind his ears and under his chin. I was second guessing myself all over the place, so I put him on the floor to see if he could walk - maybe he was rallying - instead, he walked right into his crate. He has never done that. I usually have to shoe-horn him in. I don't know why he walked in. I'd like to believe he knew what we were going to do and that he was ready to end his suffering. But I'm to rational to really believe that.

The vet examined him before placing the catheter in this leg that would deliver the fatal dose of anesthetic. She said she found a mass on his bladder, and theorized that the cancer that shut down his kidneys had spread. She also said his heart was beating really fast, which is typical of end-stage kidney failure. She was so compassionate and caring, reassuring me that we did everything to keep him comfortable, and that he would have suffered if we had kept him alive. It was still the hardest thing I've ever done.

She laid him down on a towel on the examining table. I held his head and talked him, telling him that he was a great cat. When I was ready (are you ever ready?) she injected the anesthetic. He started a bit at the cold of it, made this peculiar growling noise and within seconds I felt him die. He just stopped breathing and his head slowly came down onto the towel. He was so still. His eyes remained open, which was a little freaky, to be honest. At first I didn't want to touch him. It wasn't Boomer anymore, but a body. I did pet him a little longer and said my goodbyes. The vet said to take as much time as I needed to say goodbye. And I thought, get me out of here. I don't want to spend time with a dead cat. But when it came time to leave the room- to leave him behind - it was so hard.

I still can't believe how fast it happened. He really didn't suffer at the end. I tell myself that I did the merciful thing. It still feels like I was trying to play god.

LC's reaction:

After we've been home for an hour or so. Me: "Have you noticed anyone missing?"

"No." puzzled face, thinking.

"Boomer isn't here."

"Where is he?"

"He's dead, honey."

Pause. "Why?"

"He had a disease called cancer. It made him really sick. Eventually his heart stopped working."

And it went on from there. LC cried when I told him, but it sounded to me like that fake crying he does so well. No real tears behind it. After the bit of crying, he asked me if we could get a new pet. Wow. Didn't wait long there! I told him mommy and daddy needed time to be sad about Boomer, then we would talk about it.

Since then he has randomly commented that he is sad Boomer is dead. I printed off two pictures of Boomer from healthier, happier days (including the picture in this post) and asked him if he wanted to take them to school. He did. First thing he did this morning when we walked into the schoolyard was run up to two of his friends and tell them Boomer died. The two little boys he told nodded solemnly, then the three of them ran off to play. I'm relieved and glad that LC seems to be taking the news well. Although I fully expect this to play out in stages as he absorbs and adjusts.

Is it morbid of me to believe that this truly is a character building experience for LC? Dealing with the death of a pet is not fun, but it helps you know what it's like when someone you love dies. So maybe when a grandparent or aunt or uncle dies later, he'll have some of the tools for coping. I don't know. I'm really just making this up as I go along.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bye Boomer

RIP Boomer


Beloved pet of Chili, Mr. Chili, LC and Pepperette. Favourite chew toy of Cosmo the dog. Boomer was a funny and affectionate cat with a loud meow that bordered on a siamese yowl. He loved to sleep with Chili and Mr. Chili, although in later years like to sleep on LC's bed too. His favourite chin? Mr. Chili's. Why he liked to lick Mr. Chili's chin so much remains a mystery. Boomer enjoyed tormenting Cosmo by walking over to him when the later was napping and taking a swipe at him. Started way more fights with Cosmo that Cosmo did with him. Boomer never did figure out that Cosmo was way bigger than him and was always going to win. Boomer was incredibly tolerant of the kids. He didn't mind being mauled by kids, although he did reserve the right to bolt when he'd had enough.

Died peacefully at the vets office after a short battle with kidney cancer.

We'll miss you.

Moments of heartbreak

This morning LC said, "Mommy? I wish I had a lucky pebble because if you have a lucky pebble you can make a wish."

"Uh huh," wondering what LC would wish for.

"If I had a lucky pebble I would wish Boomer better."

"Oh sweetie. That is so nice. I wish you could."

I'm taking Boomer to the vet at 2:20pm today. I cried as I booked the appointment and she walked me through the procedure. Then I went to the library to find books for kids about dying pets. A helpful librarian found a few good books, including a very good one about a girl's cat who dies. I sat there reading books and crying. I'm really worried that LC is going to be mad because he didn't get to say goodbye. He did see Boomer this morning and talked to him for a minute and petted him. But I didn't know for sure that today was Boomer's last day. And I'm a wimp.

A couple of months ago, before we knew how sick Boomer was, we were admonishing LC to be gentle with Boomer, since he had lost weight and appeared to be getting a little frail. LC cheerfully observed, "Boomer keeps getting smaller and smaller. Soon he's going to be a kitten!"

Oh honey. If only it worked that way.

I'm not God

Our cat, Boomer, has been sick for a few months. It started with him losing a bit of weight, and then we realized he wasn't eating very much. A few visits to the vet and some hundreds of dollars later, we found out that Boomer is dying. Cancer likely, definitely kidney failure. We'll never know the exact cause, just that he's wasting away before our eyes. He used to weigh 12 lbs, now he weighs 5. It's shocking how frail and thin he is. He looks like a fourteen year old cat, not a 7.5 year old.

For the past month of so, we've been giving him subcutaneous fluids to help keep him hydrated, to make him more comfortable. It's been working pretty well. He starts eating a little more and drinking a little more. The vet showed me how to do the injections myself and I did for a while. But then Boomer really started to fight it, and his skin is so fragile that the needle would go right through. I gave up, feeling that I was causing more trauma than benefit and resumed having the vet give the subq fluids.

Up until the past few days, he's still had that Boomer spirit. Loving, feisty, always wanting a good cuddle. When Mr. Chili left for his overseas trip on May 3rd, and we never dreamed that the end was so near. On Sunday I cleaned out his litter box. There were but three small lumps of pee and one tiny lump of poo. From almost a week. Not good. On Monday (yesterday), Boomer was having trouble walking. He looked up at me, lost his balance and fell over. He had just one lick of wet cat food. I thought he had been eating some food daily. It turns out the asshole dog* was eating the food when I wasn't looking.** On Tuesday (today), Boomer became incontinent - he's peed tiny pees all over the house, despite the fact that I've carried him to his litter box many times.

He spends pretty much all of his time crouched down like he's uncomfortable. He doesn't curl up to sleep anymore, just hunkers down near us. He just walked into the office where I am writing this and peed on the carpet right next to me. I think this is an indicator of how miserable he is feeling. I am really struggling with the decision. People have said to me, "You'll know when the time is right." But what is happening is that I know he's suffering, that I'm tired of cleaning up accidents and worrying. And I wonder if I put him down, will it be to end his suffering or mine? How selfish am I, to euthanize a cat because I am tired of cleaning up. Then I think that he really is suffering. That he can hardly walk today, his back legs wobble and he loses his balance.

I called Mr. Chili late tonight my time, at the start of his day. I had to tell him where things are. And that I am going to call the vet on Wednesday morning to make an appointment to - what do I say? - put him down. Euthanize him. What I'm really doing is ending his life. Killing him. I was worried that Mr. Chili was going to be mad/upset at me. But he understands that Boomer is miserable and it needs to end.

I've never done this before. I know he's "only a cat". But he is my first cat. And this is very hard.

* Okay, the dog isn't an asshole. He took advantage of the conveniently placed chair, intended to help the cat, who can't jump anymore.
** I was so mad at myself for deluding myself into thinking that Boomer was eating again. Self-delusion much?

Friday, May 09, 2008

He's cute when I don't want to strangle him

LC stumbles out of his bedroom after midnight.

"What is it?"

Standing there, rubbing his eyes with one hand, the other holding his penis. "I have to wash my hands."

Hmmm. "Maybe you need to go potty."


Mission accomplished. Back in his bedroom, I tuck him in. He asks me to rub his back and is asleep in seconds. And I am filled with love as I lean over and kiss his tousled hair. I remind myself to hold onto this moment now, for tomorrow there will undoubtedly be moments where I want to strangle him feel very frustrated.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Aunt Janet

It's been one heckuva week, almost two, since Mr. Chili left on his overseas business trip. The kids have generally been great. I was especially worred about how LC would handle Mr. Chili's absence, but he has handled it with grace. Thank goodness.

In the meantime, it feels like everything else is falling apart. I am exaggerating, of course. But it's getting ridiculous. Details on some of the crap in a separate post. The thing that sucked most about the past week was that my Aunt Janet died. Technically she was my Great Aunt, given that she is my grandfather's baby sister. But to me she was always just Aunt Janet.

I know that dying in your sleep at age 88 is hardly tragic, but it is sad just the same. And hard on my grandfather. Now he just has one sister left. And Janet was the baby, making it harder to accept.

She was:
  • wife of Dick for 62 years
  • a mom of three
  • a grandmother of eight
  • foster mom to 33 babies
  • an artist
  • baby sister to my grandpa
  • my Sunday dinner companion for a few months when I lived in Michigan

I really wanted to attend the funeral. At the same time, I didn't think it was realistic for me to drive five hours each way with two kids by myself. If Mr. Chili was here, I probably would have taken just Pepperette and driven with my parents. I settled for sending a sympathy card for Uncle Dick. I can't imagine how it feels to lose your beloved spouse after 62 years of marriage.

Makes me sad. But I know she had a good, full life.

That's about right

As seen at Andrea's. I always mean to do these quizzes and never do. The assessment? Pretty accurate. I would classify myself as a realist tending towards pessimism.

You Are a Realist

You don't see the glass as half empty or half full. You see what's exactly in the glass.

You never try to make a bad situation seem better than it is...

But you also never sabotage any good things you have going on.

You are brutally honest in your assessments of situations - and this always seems to help you cope.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

re: Job search

The interview I had two weeks ago? The one that went well? That I talked about here? I guess it didn't go as well as I thought. I didn't get the job.

On the plus side, they did not keep me hanging for ages. And the manager offered to debrief me, which is nice of him. I know it would have been just too easy if I had gotten the first job I interviewed for. But it would have been nice.

The same day as that FOAD*, I also found out I didn't even make it to the interview round for another position I applied for. Two FOADs in one day. Go me!

I really, really need to get more stuff in the pipeline. I have no active applications out there right now. I have one posting I'm going to apply for tomorrow. Other than that? Nada. I am not going to find a job if I don't freaking look for one. And I am trying. I am networking. But obviously not hard enough.

* A term from my undergrad days. FOAD as in Fuck Off And Die. As in, you didn't get the interview/job/etc. Most of us amassed a collection of these suckers during our last year.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Pepperette cuteness

I have independent verification of this one. Pepperette has started nodding her head to communicate "yes". She's pretty good at telling us what she does and does not want to eat by reaching and "aaaaahing". Then a few days ago, after she indicated she wanted another oatcake, I asked her if she wanted it and she nodded. It is so cute to see her nodding yes. I thought I was projecting or imagining it the first time, but tonight my stepfather observed and agreed that yes, she is nodding her head.

Second moment of cuteness: in the bath tonight, Pepperette was grinning like a loon, splashing around and having a grand old time, per usual. Next thing I know, she's right by the drain plug, tugging on the handle. And pop, out it comes. She was pretty thrilled by the action, the water draining out didn't phase her one bit. I laughed and put the plug back in. I reached for the shampoo, look back and yank!, she's done it again. Little bugger. I put the plug back in, move her to the far end of the bath tub and watch as she makes a beeline back to the drain. Aaaargh! It was funny and frustrating at the same time. I managed to distract her and finished the bath quickly. She's getting pretty strong and pretty coordinated.

(So it's totally cute in real life. In the blog? It is pretty boring. I think that's why I don't post often. I can never get those real life moments written with any life. My prose sucks.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

feeling low

Today has not been a good day. I know that I am a pessimist, a glass-half-full kind of person. And I know that I'm feeling this bad because of a convergence - no, wait - an accumulation of events. Regardless of how I got here, I am struggling today with feelings of frustration, wanting to cry, feeling sad, feeling weary and simply not having the patience to deal with my abnormally cranky daughter.

I found out yesterday that a very dear friend lost her baby. She was finally experiencing a normal pregnancy. They had seen the heartbeat. She went for a twelve week ultrasound on Monday and found out the baby was dead. I don't know whether she will have a d&c or miscarry "naturally". That is just one more painful decision for her. This is her fifth miscarriage. It is so fucking unfair. No one should have to suffer like that. I'm so sad for her.

I also found out that I did nor get the job I interviewed for last week. It was a good role for me in many ways. The interview went very well. I am disappointed. It is hard for me not to take it personally, not to feel rejected. I do. And dammit, I need to find paid employment soon. Our savings isn't going to cover us much longer.

Add to this the fact that Pepperette had a bad night, moaning, crying and nursing pretty much all night. Which means that I didn't get much sleep. Then there is the stress and denial that I am careening betwen as Mr. Chili prepares to leave on Saturday for a business trip. A two week long trip, on another continent. I will be a single mom for two weeks, including two weekends. I have no idea how I'm going to survive.

I haven't felt this down, this anxious, for a long time. I hate it. I have to get some sleep. But when I feel like this I tend to stay up even later because I don't want to face reality, preferring to lose myself in the computer or a book. I'll just catch up on one more blog. One more. And so it goes until Pepperette wakes up crying at 1 am, wanting to nurse. Only then do I go to bed. But lately I can't sleep while she is nursing. It's too painful. So I get cranky and frustrated with the epic nursing sessions.

Got to go. Pepperette is out of patience. I will be back. Blogging is going to keep me same during the next two weeks.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Who me?

I have a blog? Oh yeah. *ahem*

Thanks to a friend who gave me a virtual kick in the pants, here is a brief update from the land of Pepper.

Life's been a little busy. The job hunt is going well. Meaning that:

  • I got a lot out of the career counselling

  • my resume is ready to go

  • I'm networking like crazy - reconnecting with former colleagues, old friends, etc.,

  • I've applied to a couple of things

  • I've had one interview and it went well

I'm cramming the job hunt into the three precious days where both kids are in school/daycare. I do the rest of the job search stuff late at night. Who knew that looking for a job takes so much time? It really does. Especially if you're seeking something rare and elusive. What is so special about my quest? I'm looking for a project management role that only requires about 30 hours/week. I was in telecom, and in telecom full-time doesn't mean 40 hours/week, it means 50-60 hours/week. And I just can't (won't) work like that with two young kids. All those cliches that I used to roll my eyes at - stuff like "they're only young once" or "you won't wish you'd worked more hours when you're older" - those cliches are true. I don't want to miss this time in my kid's lives. At the same time, I really like being a project manager and electrical engineer (PMP and P.Eng, thankyouverymuch). I need to use the professional part of my brain as well as the mom part of my brain in order to stay sane.

So finding a job isn't as quick as it should be. I am targeting the public sector (i.e. Ontario government), financial sector (banks, insurance) and smaller local companies. I'm quite willing to make a lesser wage so that I can have more time with my kids.

It's hard, swimming upstream like this. I'm trying to straddle the space between being a work-away-from-home mom and a stay-at-home mom. My SAHM friends think I'm nuts. My professional friends think that I don't care about my career anymore. But hey, I have to try to find the right job because it's the right thing for me & my family. Besides, I've always enjoyed being different. I don't like to do things the easy way.

In an effort to retain some quasi-anonymity, I'm not going to post my resume or other info here. (Plus there's the fact that no one reads this thing because I am so bad at updating!)

So there you go. The job search continues.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My inner voice

I've attended a series of seminars courtesy of the career counselling program that was part of my severance package. Most of them are very job search focused:

  • career assessment (which included the very interesting Birkman First Look survey)
  • self-marketing and networking (hard to do, but very necessary for finding a job)
  • resume building
  • interviewing and negotiating strategies
  • becoming an entrepreneur
  • consulting and contracting - pros & cons

Today I attended an "enrichment" session. It was titled "Job search communication and conversation", but really, it was about how we talk to ourselves and can sabotage ourselves. Duh, right? Yes, I knew this stuff. Becoming more conscious of some of the crappy things I do to myself? Very worthwhile. I sometimes really think I could use some therapy.

Ego states

I learned about Eric Berne's theories about the ego states. That we each have within ourselves a parent, adult and child state. I would go on, but I think it is better said here and here. The first link has a great illustration of the states and how we transition from one to another. The second has a lot of info and is a bit dry. Apparently this is called "transactional analysis. It's neat stuff and gave me insight for my own head and also why I have so much trouble communicating with my 4.5 year old.

My inner critic

We all have a little voice in our heads. It warns us when something is a bad idea, it encourages us when we're scared, it tells us we're a fuck-up.... I was aware of mine, but after today's session I am much more aware of how much power I give my inner voice and how much I let it affect what I do. We talked about liberating your inner voice - not killing it, that won't happen. But engaging that voice, embracing it, talking to it. Yeah, it all sounds touch-feely and out there. I know. At the same time? I know my inner voice is brutal to me.

As an exercise, the instructor had us write about our inner voice and how it's affecting our job search. Here is what I wrote.

Q: With respect to your job search, what are the two most common messages your inner critic give you?

A1: No one will want to hire me part-time. Why should I get special treatment?

A2: I do not have any special skills or unique characteristics. I'm just an ordinary, average person. No one is going to want to hire me (for the kind of position and salary I want).

Q: How is the inner critic helpful, hurtful, frightening, etc.?

A: My inner voice is paralyzing. The panic buzzes around my brain so I can't think, can't move forward, can't respond to questions. My inner critic squelches my joy, makes me talk negatively about everything, even the things that make me happy. And this is reflected in what I say out loud - I feel like everything I say is a complaint or a whine. I don't want to be like this anymore. It is exhausting to be so negative. And part of it is caused by the perpetual exhaustion of having two young kids and looking for a job.

Q: What kinds of messages could you give yourself that are honest and supportive?

A: Look at my skills objectively. I can acknowledge and place value on the things that I have done. I must interrupt my inner voice before she finishes the "but". Get her to rephrase - I will, I can, I love.

Q: Anything else?

A: I want to start - really try - to be more positive. I need to coach my inner voice to stop being so negative, teach it instead to be my cheerleader.


I know that's all mega-touch feely. But man, there is truth there. My inner voice is killing my joy. I don't want to be down and negative all the time. And believe me, it's my normal state. I can do better. I'm going to try.

(I feel perilously close to sounding like Stuary Smalley, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me." *snort*)

I'm learning about myself. It's painful sometimes, enlightening, and I hope it will help me find a job that is closer to my values. I guess I should be thankful for being laid off. I doubt I ever would have found the time to sort through this stuff if I hadn't been forced into it.

Happy 2nd bloggiversary!

Yep, that's right. Two years of lame posts, with huge gaps of time in between. Something to be proud of. Not really. But this blog is mine, and I put what I can into it. I want to do more - if only there was a way to post directly from my brain. On second thought, that might be a little scary.

Happy 2nd bloggiversary, self.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Apologies for dropping off the face of the earth. We've been busy around here. Pepperette turned one, March break happened and my maternity leave ended. Last week Pepperette started her gradual introduction to Montessori/daycare. She did very well. I found it really hard. It broke my heart to hand her over to the teacher and walk away as Pepperette reached for me, crying. I found out when I returned a few hours later to get her that she stopped crying as soon as I was out of sight. So really, she did very well.

Also this week, I officially started my job search. I've attended about three half day seminars so far. I'm getting a lot out of them, certainly I feel more energized and optimistic that I will be able to find something part-time. I'm worried about finding something good enough in the limited time frame I have (of course, the list of things I worry about is long and varied). I don't get that many weeks of EI. I hope I can find something on my terms before I run out of money. I feel very strongly that I have to take the time to really look, to really try to make this career change, this lifestyle change. If I don't do it now, I fear I will end up stressed and miserable, feeling like I never see my kids and husband.

In other news, bad news has been hitting us on multiple fronts. Listed in random order - goodness knows the trouble I would get in if I ranked my stepmother over my cat.

I'm (trying to) keep it all in perspective - the kids, Mr. Chili and I still have a roof over our heads and reasonable health. But.... Our beloved family cat, Boomer, is dying. He is wasting away. Many vet visits and large bills later, we have eliminated the benign, treatable causes and are left with terminal illnesses like cancer. He is only 7 years old. The vet was shocked at his appearance. Not only is he down to a mere 7.5 lbs from a healthy 12 lbs, but he looks aged, more like a 14 or 15 year old cat. His spirits are good and he doesn't seem to be suffering. No vomiting or diarrhea or litter box accidents. He isn't eating or drinking much though, so to keep him more comfortable, I am giving him fluids subcutaneously. Since we don't know what us killing him we have no idea how long he will live. He's an awesome cat, so loving, such a great personality, so great with the kids. I'm so sad about this. I'm also worried about LC and how he will handle this. We're making it up as we go, hoping that everyone comes through it okay.

Car troubles. Mr. Chili was in a car accident with our older but paid for and runs really well car about a month ago. Some knob, not paying attention ran into the passenger rear side of the car. Fortunately he wasn't hurt, nor were the kids in the car. But oh the hassle. The insurance company ended up writing off the car. Did I mention I'm unemployed? Not a good time to take on a car payment. So we were able to take a reduced settlement from the insurance company and get it fixed. Took ages to settle and get the car fixed, which sucked because we are most definitely suburbanites who are reliant on having two cars. All's well that ends well.

In far bigger, badder news, my dad called on Friday to tell us that my stepmom has breast cancer. It is pretty bad, but doesn't appear to have spread to the lymph nodes. I am not very close to my stepmom (very, very long story), but she and my dad are very much in love and my dad has some major health issues of his own. We don't know the treatment plan yet - probably surgery by next Friday, then who knows - radiation? Chemo? I'm worried that she will die and my dad won't be able to stand it, that it will break him. I'm worried about the toll that supporting her will take on his health. They live an hour away and I just hope that I will be able to find good ways to support them. I do care about my stepmom, I do. I want her to fight this and win.

Finally, I have a dear friend who is in a very bad, very messy personal situation. It is so beyond anything you can imagine that if I told you the details you'd say I was making that shit up. I have been doing my best to support her, to be her rock. It is really hard because I worry about her, about my safety, her kids. I've been involved for this for two years. And the truth is that it keeps getting worse and worse. It is killing her in the most literal sense. I feel helpless a lot of the time. I know I can't rescue her, only she can. But that doesn't make it any easier to watch.

Got to post this now, while I have a minute. Pepperette is almost done nursing.