Tag Archives: Career

Working Wednesday: Rough Mornings

Today’s blog post does not really have any advice in it. I’m very sorry. Instead, I am going to relate to you, my Monday morning experience.

I think that Baby Girl might be going through somewhat of a growth spurt. She’s cranky, but has no sign of any illness, she’s eating like a horse (again, contradicting an illness theory), and she is not sleeping well. I was worried she might be getting too much caffeine in my breast milk, since I’m still nursing, so I cut down for a few days (toddlers metabolize it differently) and that did not change anything. If anything, it made things worse, because then I was cranky, too!

So, Monday morning, after very little sleep, I got up, got dressed, had her refuse her morning nap, and dragged myself into work. On top of everything, I’d made cupcakes for a birthday (the trials of which will no doubt be posted to Butter and Whisky shortly). I was at work for a little less than an hour (with me typoing everything in sight and generally being cranky) when my husband texted and said that Baby Girl was finally feeling sleepy.

Remember that post where I said vacation time is all right? Well, I decided that between me being incredibly unproductive and Baby Girl needing me, taking a couple hours of my vacation time would be okay. I’m salaried, so my vacation time doesn’t work quite the same as everyone else’s anyway.

I went home and got Baby Girl to sleep, took a nap myself, and got back in time to work a little bit more of the day – I think I was gone for about two hours total. It was worth it, for my health, for my family, and for my productivity on the job.

… I’ll try not to feel too guilty that I just had a real vacation not two weeks ago.


Flashback Friday: What to Wear When You’re Expecting

This post is coming to you live (well, as in, I’m going to write it and immediately post it, instead of scheduling it) because I needed to be on my actual computer to write it. You see, I’m about to link all over the place!

Today’s Flashback Friday is all about the clothes you should wear when you’re pregnant. These days, we have a lot of choices on what to wear, and I am here to talk to you about professional(ish) clothes that look great. I say professional-ish because I dress strictly business casual, and I really like dresses and skirts. Your requirements may vary.

First up, of course, is Motherhood Maternity. They can be quite pricey, as I found out when I needed a dress for a summer wedding. My husband was the best man, so not attending was not an option. But I found a dress for $35. Not a great price for a dress I wore three times (it was near the end of my pregnancy), but it worked well and wowed the other guests at the wedding. If you have the luxury of time, I would recommend shopping their website, rather than their storefronts – there is more selection and better sales.

Second, and this is honestly where I got most of my maternity clothes, is Kohl’s. They are forever running sales, and their clearance section tends to be robust Some of what they sell is a secondary label of Motherhood Maternity called Oh Baby! but I have also seen other brands there. Plus, if you time it right, you can snag Kohl’s Cash and use it to dress your little one!

Third, is Zulily. This one is a little more hit-or-miss, and I have to admit that though I saw plenty of things I liked from them, the timing was never right for me. They cycle through collections frequently though, so you should definitely give them a look.

Lastly, there are yard sales and consignment shops. Your town is full of women who have vowed that they are never having more kids and are ready to get rid of their maternity clothes. I would recommend stopping anywhere that advertises they have kid’s clothes – more  often than not, there will be a small selection of maternity clothes. I got my favorite maternity dress – the one we took my pregnancy photos in – from a massive fundraising consignment sale hosted by the Boys and Girls Club here. Even if you’re newly pregnant, I would take advantage of the summer season and get to shopping – you can always fill in gaps in your wardrobe later as you discover them.

One slightly negative thing I have to add: I would stay away from Macy’s. What I saw was over-priced, incredibly similar to other things I had seen elsewhere, and pretty much never went on sale.

Working Wednesday: Pushy Coworkers

For some of you, this post will be entirely irrelevant for any number of reasons. Some of you may enjoy talking about your children endlessly to your coworkers. Some of you may have jobs where your coworkers do not care in the least that you’ve reproduced. Neither is the case with me.

Like a lot of my posts, I have to preface this with: this does not apply to the main campus. As far as I can tell, they have been nothing but appropriate in asking what they have about Baby Girl. A polite question here or there, if they aren’t on my social media accounts to see more regular updates.

This concerns a few individuals who would apparently like it if I brought my daughter to work every day. They tell me they haven’t seen her in so long, and start asking when I’ll bring her in again.

In my heart of hearts, the answer to that would be never. I like that I work for a family-friendly campus that can rearrange things in an emergency, but I truly believe that is only for emergencies, and with my husband being a stay at home dad, those situations are highly unlikely for me.

Still, they persist. Pictures are not enough, and I’m sharing them grudgingly already. So I have found a polite, professional way to cave to their demands within the scope of my own work ethic: we have two “family fun” events every year, one in the spring and one in the fall. So, instead of helping with the events ( which I’m not required to do anyway) I go get Baby Girl and take her to the event so everyone can see her, at least briefly.

This compromise seems to have made my more pushy coworkers happy, and positively delighted the more sensible among them.

Does your work place hold any family friendly events? If they don’t- and they simultaneously want to see your kids – could a family friendly event be organized?

Page Protectors

This … might seem a little nutty. Maybe even a bit out there. But I love page protectors. So, please, indulge me as I talk about them for a little bit.

I’m sure I am re-inventing the wheel, here, but I use page protectors in my organization efforts pretty much daily – both at home and at work.

We keep statistics at work by hand for a number of patron activities. I stuck a stats sheet in a page protector and we tally them using a dry-erase marker.  The same can be done with a calendar – especially if you have multiple employees all needing to change their schedules (oh, the joys of working with students.)

I think there might be a laminator in the building, but if there is I a) don’t know where it is, b) wouldn’t know how to use it and c) would probably have to spend more time outside of the library than I care to fussing with it.

I also (when I think about it) will use a page protector to keep recipes safe while I’m working in the kitchen. I don’t cook from paper recipes that aren’t in books very often, but I have copies of a couple of my mother’s recipes that I keep safe this way. (Her macaroni and cheese .. yum! I should share that sometime.)

Those are the obvious uses for page protectors though, right? Essentially protecting pages from ink and spills.

I also use page protectors for keeping papers together. There is a limit to how many pieces of paper you can stick in one page protector, but the answer is not one or even two.

As we’ve touched on before, I get to be awfully creative at my job. And sometimes an idea is good enough that I want to save it for reuse. I was perplexed though – I have limited space in my desk drawers, so putting it in a file folder was, for the time being, out. I could put it in a binder, but then I’d have to hole punch things – making them less usable later on. I went looking for something to fix it in the supply closet, and that’s when I found the page protectors. Now extra copies of papers, flyers, signs and miscellaneous can all live together neatly in my binder titles “Library Displays.”

If you don’t get to do fun displays like I do, you can use this method if you have meetings where you’ll be handing out papers. (My boss could potentially benefit from this; he usually shows up with several file folders to each of our meetings.) You could use it to store extra copies of paperwork (like inventory sheets, time sheets, etc) that you’d rather not have holes punched in.

I also use this method at home for a variety of craft projects. My all-time favorite though is pattern pieces. I print a lot of doll clothes patterns, and the tiny pieces fit very well in the page protectors – but larger patterns would also fit. Let’s face it, those paper sleeves they come in won’t last forever.

I keep Ana’s “artwork” in them. (She’s only a year and a half, so it’s just scribbles right now, but I am sentimental and want to keep at least a few of them. )

I am sure there are other uses for them I am forgetting, but let this post be an inspiration – and feel free to add to their use in the comments!

Not Perfection, but Efficiency

One of the things I want to talk about in this blog is organization. We touched on this ever-so-briefly yesterday, when I advocated getting a calendar to keep track of coworkers’ birthdays.

The internet is full of organizational methods, paper and digital planners, and how-to-guides. I have even published one. It’s for planning conference trips, something I could not find anywhere one the internet. I found plenty of family trip planners, and one very nice but incomplete-for-my-needs blogging conference planner.

But here, I am going to let you in on a little secret: planners are a damn lifesaver when you’re a working mom. I had a lot going on in my life when we found out I was pregnant (including buying a new house, working toward tenure, and issues with my mother-in-law being unable to live on her own). I don’t know if it was stress or hormones, but baby-brain hit me hard, too. So I started looking for planners (and in a few cases, making them.) It is better to start earlier, because the more things you forget, the worse the stress will be, and it will affect your ability to remember other things.

My super-fantastic memory mostly came back when the new baby stress was over, but I do find myself relying on planners still. I have two, and I’m working on a third. The first is work, the second is family, and the new one is my personal one.

I task you with this, tonight: make a list of all the things you have to keep track of, regardless of whether you feel like you struggle with them or not. Then start looking for planner pages and start building your planner. As this blog progresses, I’ll be sharing how I built mine, but for now just start with taking a look at why you might need one.


Time to… Thursday: Time to Make Time, Pt. 1

Following up on yesterday’s post, I am here today to tell you how I have managed to make cupcakes for my coworkers over the past 10 months. That is fourteen batches of cupcakes. There are still six batches to go.

The first step is one of those simple-but-complicated things. You know, the ones that are easy to say but not necessarily easy to do.

You have to want to do it.

I know what they say:  “If everything’s important, then nothing is important.” And that is absolutely true. There have been things that are not so important to me now that used to be important to me before. That’s pretty standard with any life change – oh, if only I had a blog when I started this job! – but that doesn’t mean that nothing is allowed to be important. That would be just as equally ridiculous.

Therefore, you need to set a goal. Mine was pretty ambitious – making cupcakes can be somewhat time consuming, especially when you consider clean up, and there were definitely days where dishes were left in the sink until dinner the next day, and I was cussing myself (we’ll get into how I conquered that!)

Yours may be slightly less ambitious. Maybe you want to treat all your coworkers once a month, instead of having it set to a birthday schedule. I did “cheat” on my cupcakes for the people who were born over the Christmas holiday – I brought one batch of cupcakes in to the holiday party for the two birthday ladies (three, if you count me!) – because our building literally would not be open from the time finals ended until the day after New Year’s.

You could make or buy cards. That one would be pretty simple – buying a cache of inexpensive cards that you could keep organized. You could even keep them in your office. Things are easier when they’re non-perishable!

Once you have your goal set, I suggest getting a calendar and writing down all the birthdays. You could set reminders in your phone, if you’re more technologically oriented. The goal is to make sure that you will be reminded, so make note of the  birthdays wherever you will actually look. That’s where Drew’s birthday was almost forgotten – I had tucked my calendar away in a binder, and it ended up behind some other papers.

Then ask your coworkers when their birthdays are. Just catch them in the break room, or the hallway, or wherever, and say, “Hi ____! I’m trying not to miss anyone’s birthdays this next (fiscal,/school/calendar) year, and I’m not sure I’ve got yours right. When is it?” If, for some reason, they ask further questions (we have pranksters here, so my coworkers have a right to be suspicious), tell them, “Well, I’m not making any promises, but I’d like to do something to make you and everyone else feel appreciated.”

I will confess, this one was done for me, because the office assistant keeps track on  her big calendar, and she gave me a list – but I actually had to cull the list a bit, which brings me to step four: set limits. There are 55 birthdays on the office assistant’s list, plus my two employees who started after the list was made. Some of them are instructors (who are only here one or two nights a week). Some of them are administrative people who don’t actually work at this campus. So I limited the cupcakes to the staff I work with regularly. This is the “core” of our group – the administrative staff downstairs – plus the BSAs, the part-time evening person, the bookstore clerk, the writing tutor, and my two employees in the library.

That still gave me 20 batches of cupcakes, so what do I do to get them made?

First, I split the two halves of the job: the cupcakes get made the evening before, and the frosting gets made and piped the morning of.  I usually make the cupcakes after Ana has gone to bed (hence the occasional sink full of dishes). They take, on average, about 35 minutes. Usually that small sacrifice of sleep is worth it, because it gives me a chance to wind down and I sleep better. Plus, the cupcakes can cool fully before frosting.

Then, either I frost the cupcakes before she gets up or while she is having breakfast in her high chair. Frosting cupcakes always seems like a bigger  job than it actually is, but it only takes about 15 minutes if the butter has been thawed, and if you use store bought, it’ll take even less.

Ana was already big enough to be eating semi-solid food when I started this, so she was used to being in the high chair, and loves to be in the kitchen with me. I’ll put on some music and dance around and play with her while I’m working. And then it’s quality mommy-baby time, too! Our high chair did have an infant setting though – we just didn’t get it until after she was sitting up on her own. Other options might be a playpen or a bouncer, depending on how big your kitchen is.

I’ve titled this post Part 1 for a reason. It’s something we’ll be coming back to often. The ability to make time, and the best ways to do it will change as your child grows.

Working Wednesday: Co-Workers…

If I am going to be honest with you, I first must be honest with myself. I have mixed feelings about my co-workers. I think, at some point in our lives, we all do.

My biggest problem, I think, is that the culture here is different than at the main campus. Four years in, and I’m still not always sure where I stand. But I have to work with these people, and after my year-long growing pains and pity party (again, I’m trying to be honest) I decided that maybe I should do something to make myself a better coworker.

Yes, I do my work. Yes, I volunteer to do things that are technically out of the scope of my responsibilities. Yes, I help my coworkers grow in their respective fields by giving them advice and constructive criticism. But I am an introvert at heart, and a very private person, besides.

These people are not private. We’ll get in to that later.

Back to the problem: I’m an introvert and therefore it makes me look like I’m not interested in other peoples’ lives. So this year, starting on the fiscal year (because it was convenient and because it aligned better with the school year) I decided to keep track of everyone’s birthdays and make them cupcakes. We are rapidly approaching the year mark, and the only person I have missed is the graduate assistant who was hired after my list was made. (Oops.)

We will get into how I managed to do that with a baby in tomorrow’s post. Today, I want to share with you the recipe I made Monday night/Tuesday morning, for Drew’s birthday. Head over to my cooking blog Butter and Whisky to see The Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcake.