Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Last Year of Daycare

The kids are in Connecticut for a few days (thanks Fillis and John!) as another summer winds down, and we face the usual "there's no camp and no daycare and no school!" gap at the end of August. As fun as this summer was, particularly for the kids, I am so ready for this school year to start. Because this start represents the beginning of the end: The End of Daycare.

Now in nine months I fully expect to be blubbering that my baby is graduating and all that goes along with that (can you believe how cute 5yo Hannah was?), but that time hasn't come to pass yet, so for now I'm left contemplating all of the joy that is to come from being done with this stage in our lives. Here are the top three reasons I won't mind moving on from daycare:

1) Money. This pretty much outranks everything else out there. As I detailed in this post when Hannah graduated, we spent a lot of money on her daycare years, and with the inflation in costs for Max, the total is definitely higher for him. While there will still be aftercare and years of activity fees, it should still be substantially less.
2) Calendar. With both kids attending the same elementary school, they'll be on the same schedule. And while they will still have way more vacation time than I do, it will be easier to manage just one set of teacher inservice days and the differences between the secular and Jewish calendars. Even the "wear this color/item" notices I so dread will be easier to manage.
3) Pick up and drop off. While Marc does most of this responsibility now, I've never stopped feeling guilty about not being at daycare every day. I don't, however, have the same guilt about putting Hannah on the school bus each day, standing in a huddle with other working parents before we race off to our cars or the train. Parents aren't even allowed very far past the school doors anyway!

But there is one huge thing that I will really miss, and that's the entire community of people that the daycare years have brought into my life. I've made so many connections throughout each of these classes, and I think to some degree we all helped each other navigate these crazy first years of parenting. There are dozens and dozens of kids that I can see age in front of my eyes, whether it's on Facebook or that chance meeting out somewhere, where the passage of time is physically evident in ways that are harder to see in my own children. There are the tips we've traded along the sidelines of birthday parties, the careers we've discussed over playdates, and the late night emails where we tried hard to figure out what's best. We've been through a lot together during an intense period of life, and I'll miss it.

Oh, wait...now I've made myself a bit sad again. Well, good thing I've got nine more months to enjoy it all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A "Birth" Announcement Of Sorts

Welcome to Busy Since Birth, the new home of The Life of LilMisBusy! I'm so happy to have you join me in this venue. Pretty cool new digs, right?

So why the reason for the change? Abby. After my post on BlogHer and how I was trying to find my way in all of this, Abby suggested we go to dinner and talk shop. Now for her, it really is a shop, and the things she makes are spectacular. But for me, the blog has been a place where I've tried to just do the writing thing. I hadn't bothered to think about how the rest of the page affects the content, how presentations have changed and that I was looking dated with my simple green page. Since I usually read other blogs using my Google Reader, or have trained my eyes so well to avoid everything but the content itself, I thought it didn't matter. But Abby made me realize that I was wrong.

The LilMisBusy name needed an update too. While I'll always hold affection for my old instant messenger screen name, the misspellings were probably making it hard for people to find me. To be honest, I've probably typed it incorrectly as often as I've gotten it right. Cutesy was fine for anonymous writing, but I don't think of myself as a cutesy person, and if my name is going to be on the final product, I wanted to be proud of it. So the "busy" concept remains, but in a new way.

Now a few notes on the actual workings of the site. Anytime you want to find me, you can just type busysincebirth.com. When you click "Keep reading" on a post, you'll be brought to a secondary screen that displays the full length of the post. From there you can tweet, like, or G +1 the post and share it with others by clicking the links at the bottom of the post, or leave me a comment. When you finish reading a post, it's easy to see, well, every other post I've written by scrolling down. There's a fancy new search bar at the top, which will help you find entries within the blog. Finally, using the black navigation bar on the right, you can see more about me, the full blog archives, a list of all of the other blogs I'm reading, and ways to become a follower or a subscriber of this blog. If you've been using an RSS reader, you'll need to resubscribe to continue to get updates.

I think that's everything! Thanks to my live in tech support, Marc, for helping to make all of this possible. I hope you enjoy the new look, and come back soon for more new content. It's been fun making this change, and I look forward to chronicling many more adventures here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Doing While Distracted

This morning I made what could have been a catastrophic mistake: I took a large dose of my fast-acting insulin instead of my long-acting insulin.

Usually I keep my two insulin pens in separate places to avoid this type of confusion, but I hadn't been feeling well the night before, and inadvertently carried the fact-acting pen upstairs. While talking to Marc this morning and going through my usual routine of testing and injecting (something I could do blindfolded), I grabbed the wrong pen and injected it for the first time in my history with diabetes.

I immediately realized my mistake, and went downstairs for a large bowl of cereal and some juice. I brought an extra granola bar to work, and even ended up having a few pieces of hard candy as I was trying to finish doing something before I grabbed lunch. Marc drove me to work just to make sure I didn't get sick on the train. Everything worked out okay.

But I was beyond aggravated this morning. My mind was racing from the moment I had gotten out of bed. I had gone to bed early, but still wasn't feeling great. I wanted to go to work and finish a few tasks with things I had left on my desk, so I didn't want to work from home. My twice a month cleaning service was coming today, so I need to strip our bed, put out clean sheets, take the towels and rug out of the bathroom, pack the kids swimming bags, put laundry in the dryer and clean up dishes from last night. I knew I could do all that - but I didn't think I could also pick up the blocks littering every surface in Max's room. So as I was doing my shot with the wrong pen, I was telling Marc, "I really shouldn't feel bad that Max's room isn't picked up for the cleaning people, right?"

Yes, I was feeling guilty for not cleaning for the cleaning person. I know many of us have been there, and many of us continue to do it. My defense is that I want them to spend more time on the deep cleaning of my house, that I can handle all of the picking up. But in reality, if I do it all, they probably just finish up my house faster.

But what I'm really guilty of is "doing while distracted" and the consequences could have been dire. Without food, it's likely I would have gotten on the train and had a fast, massive drop in blood sugar. I might not have had enough time to react, or even realize it was happening. All because I was distracted.

You've all see the PSAs not to text and drive (or in some cases, walk). I've read the horrible articles about a child being left behind in a hot car when the change in a routine made the parent forget about daycare drop off. This morning was a good reminder for me to slow down, to not do everything on autopilot, and to try to stop my always-racing mind.

And to maybe leave a bit more mess behind for the cleaning people. But thanks to Marc for scrambling to clean it up anyway, just to make me feel better.

Monday, August 13, 2012

When Having It All Requires Risking A Lot (A Post for E)

On Friday I had the pleasure of eating lunch away from my desk, which happens way too infrequently. My colleague E had discovered this blog from my profile on LinkedIn, and arranged the lunch to get to know me better after reading all about my life on here. E had a lot of questions on this whole working mom gig, which if you've been reading here for a while, is something I have a lot to say about.

And if you've been reading here for a while, you know that I'm very fortunate to have a damn good life...particularly if you only know me from the blog. I don't post about the difficult stuff very often. Honestly, that's not what I want to look back on and remember. Sometimes it's there, lurking under the surface, but I'm not writing here to air my dirty laundry. I share this space with my family, I post it on my facebook page, it is far from anonymous. But in talking to E, I realized that maybe that's a bit unfair to skip posting some of the bad stuff.

E doesn't have children yet, but she's concerned about that awful feeling that she might not be able to do it all as well as she would like to do it. The feeling that though she would give 100% of herself to her child, her husband, her job, that 100% still wouldn't cover it all. Something would slip through the cracks. She might not be perfect.

I'm not perfect. I try really hard to be, to not miss anything, to be perfectly organized, on time, with a clean house and clean children. Keeping up with that level of perfection is tiring, I'll admit, and I don't always succeed. But I also don't fail.

There are bad moments in my eight-plus years of parenting. Max having pneumonia. Hannah breaking her wrist. Everything with my back. Bad moments aren't failures.

The closest I've come to a failure happened in December 2008. Max was about to turn one, Hannah was halfway through her last year of full-time daycare, and the world was just over a year into what has become known as the Global Financial Crisis. With double daycare bills eating up my salary, I had worked that year with a few goals in mind, but making much money wasn't one of them. We had run ourselves ragged, taking the kids to daycare in opposite directions, dealing with Max's helmet, and the general chaos of life with two little kids. I can't remember the specific nature of the chaos from work now, but it had been a difficult year. Tension was thick in the world of finance, and I wasn't sure I'd made the right decision working that year. I came home one Friday night and went straight to bed, leaving Marc to have Shabbat dinner with the kids, but without me. I fell asleep crying over how foolish I'd been to work and put my family through so much.

A few hours later, Marc came upstairs and asked me if I wanted to go to Disney World. He knew I needed a lifeboat - something to distract me and look forward to. It totally worked, as I researched and planned the heck out of that trip. A trip we wouldn't have been able to afford if I hadn't worked that year.

I'll never forget seeing Max on the big screen at a Monsters, Inc. interactive show, or hearing Hannah tell me, "it was a really good four days, Mommy."

So in the end, what felt like an epic fail at the time, worked out. Not only did we take that trip, but I've maintained an amazing trajectory at work and continue to be praised for all of my efforts there. I know how incredibly lucky I've been to make it work so far. And I was also quick to assure E that just because it's what worked for me, doesn't mean what anyone else chooses, or is forced by circumstance to choose, is worth any less. There are so many ways to live a life, and you can't possibly know how yours is going to turn out. I honestly don't think I could have predicted the course of my own life - whoever heard of someone working in bank loans? - and E is just going to have to start living hers in the direction she wants, and see what happens.

But E, you won't fail. And I'll be along to help make sure you succeed, in any way I can.

And now, some Disney World 2009 pictures, since I didn't post them on the blog back then.
Hannah with her "Wishing Star" from lunch at Cinderella's Castle
Max with a kiss from Sleeping Beauty

Monday, August 6, 2012


In contrast to yesterday's serious, what-is-the-meaning-of-my-life type post, something fun today. It's a topic I'm sure many of my readers can contribute something about, and should be good for a Monday laugh.

I'm talking about the words that your children just can't pronounce. Beyond the "pa-scettis" of the world that have almost become adopted by children and adults alike.

In our house, one of Max's current obsessions is the concept of infinity. He finds it so captivating that he even behaved in a museum exhibit on the topic. The only issue is that he pronounces it as "affinity," which has an entirely separate definition. Of course I amuse myself by saying, "Max has an affinity for infinity." And now all of you get to benefit from that little nugget.

Max also regularly says "swamwich" for sandwich, and "syna-God" for synagogue. Last night, he yelled out "immedium!" for immediately. An old favorite is "ketter" for air conditioner, and Hannah's "unfleeced" to describe something that was inside out lives on in the Stober family lexicon.

So make me laugh - what do your kids mispronounce?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why I Didn't Go To #BlogHer12

I have been at this blogging thing for quite a while now - more than 5 years have passed since I started writing in this space. Over that period of time, blogging has become an industry, and this past week, it's biggest annual event, BlogHer, took place in New York City. If you click through that link, you can see details on just how big this event is. If you didn't click, you should know that the 4,500 conference attendees were addressed by President Barack Obama, Martha Stewart, and Katie Couric over the three day event. There were endless parties and a giant expo hall where bloggers could connect with each other, and connect with brands. And there were sessions about the actual craft of blogging.

For three years now, I've seen a bit of this event from the sidelines, following along on Twitter and in many blog posts both before and after the conference. For a brief period last spring, I considered attending myself. This will sound crazy to those of you that don't blog, and that don't engage in a community this way, but I feel like these are my people. There is something about putting yourself out there online, in a way that makes a lot of people too uncomfortable for them to do, but for me feels authentic and exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. There is a truth to this process, and so many bloggers I admire chose to attend.

But I didn't go because there's also a big part of it that I don't get, and that's all of the brand focus. It's just not what I do here. I don't know how. I've told stories about things I've done and places I've been, but I've never been compensated for any of it. I wrote a post for a friend about taking our car to the drive in, and afterward my car dealership said I could bring the car in for a free oil change. I never did. I'm very fortunate to make a great living, and while a freebie here and there would be nice (hey there, Disney World!), it's just not what I want to do. When I do take part in something, I want it to feel organic. Next month, I'm going to read a book for my friend Jessica's new book review site, because the book sounds really good and because I trust Jessica not to be wasting my time. But that opportunity came to me - I'm not sure how I feel about the reverse.

This dichotomy leads a lot of people to maintain separate blogs, but let's be honest - I barely find enough time to write on this one. So I stayed home from BlogHer this year because I couldn't reconcile this issue in my head and in my heart. But as the conference went on, I noticed a few tweets from people I really admire. They might not have been tweeting as much, which is why they were more difficult to notice. They weren't brand-specific - they were session specific. Mostly, they were supportive messages from the audience at the Voices of the Year session, where bloggers are chosen to read their work to the group. And that's where I want to be, in that community.

I will be attending the Springboard Conference this fall, my first official event in this vein, the first time I'm spending my money on something because of my blog. To say I'm excited is an understatement. But I think over the next year, I'm going to evaluate all of this a little more, and get myself to BlogHer '13. The timing on the calendar looks right, and the Chicago location sounds amazing. So, uh, is it too early to be looking for a roommate? :)