It's been one year since I stopped having a steady paycheck. I don't know that I've been that honest about that on this blog, although it's certainly not a secret.

As this anniversary has come up I've been feeling a little antsy. Or introspective or something. And reading articles like this put me into hyperdrive anxiety about my decisions.

I feel judged by some unknown, faceless "them" or "society" that I am making a detrimental decision -- for myself, for my family and for my daughter. And reading about "mommy wars" I know the feeling of being judged goes both ways.

But I honestly don't question anyone's decisions on child care and working. It's certainly a family-by-family decision (or mama-by-mama decision and possibly child-by-child decision). There can't be a right answer for everyone.

I don't even think there's a right answer for me. It's just what I'm doing now because I want to. And I know how unbelievably lucky I am to have the choice -- an honest-to-goodness choice because I don't have to factor in whether I could earn enough to cover child care (for example).

In a very real way I am living my dream. It's not a fairy tale by any stretch, but it's what I want to do. At least right now. And the panic comes in when I read things about the inability to work again after being out of the workforce for a time or how I'm putting my future at risk by depending on my husband's income (a husband who is likely leave me being the line of argument there).

I have no illusions that I'll ever be at the top of any field. If I had any they were dashed by my personality/work assessment just before I left my last job. (I thought I wrote about it then but I can't seem to find a post -- I know I fretted about it an inordinate amount of time. It basically came down to I'm a follower and good at taking direction.) But that's not a justification of my current life choice. Just an observation or factor I guess. I also know I'm a valuable employee and kick ass getting things done, at work or otherwise.

So I am certainly still freelancing, emphasis on the free, and pitching for another side job or two. I feel that I could step back into work without issue right now, but I just don't want to yet. I'm still enamored with being Jane's primary caregiver all the time, and although I don't have stars in my eyes about it like I did pre-birth I treasure it nonetheless. Also being unencumbered by a job makes travel with Shawn much more possible -- and boy are we planning some travel! In fact, I'll be on a plane today!

I'll continue to work through these feelings, possibly writing more but maybe not. I just want to hold onto the "right for me" groove that I can sometimes rest in without anxiety or doubt. Those moments of pure clarity and assurance of my decisions are rare though.

TIBTIL: Zo&Co TravelTote

In a continuing effort to drive myself crazy I am once again traveling with a toddler. This time without a second set of hands! Luckily they are two short flights with reasonable layovers in between at an airport with a great kids' play area. But still.

This is stuffed a LOT fuller when we're actually on the plane.
I bought something to try to make things a little easier on the plane. On the Minneapolis trip I struggled with having everything handy -- books, small toys, snacks, water, etc. So when I saw a Plum District deal for this Zo&Co TravelTote at half off, I bit. And it's a Thing That I Bought That I Love.

After using it for one half of a trip so far, I really like it. I also know it will be useful when we fly and Jane gets her own seat (we're only a few months away from that reality ... although who knows when we'll fly once we need three tickets) and when she's in the car seat facing forward (not sure when I want to do that since backward facing is so much safer for neck and shoulders). 
The tote itself is made of durable quilted material with lots of pockets and carabiners, and it has Velcro to keep it together when it's not in the airplane pocket (it kind of rolls up to get shoved in a bag). The pockets are big enough for a sippy cup to slide in, which was great because those are always too bulky for the seat back pocket itself. The clips that hold the tote to the seat are like what you'd see in a car sun visor clip on -- say one of those flat CD carriers or additional mirror. So they're very strong and don't seem like they'd give out or go loose even with repeat use. I don't know about cleaning it, although I'm sure surface cleaning would be fine. If it got really dirty I might chance throwing it in the washer and letting it air dry.

I picked the blue and green kid version because it had more carabiners. On the plane I liked the blue because it blended in more with the blue seats, so it wasn't screaming out for the flight attendant to tell me I had to put it away (I'm assuming it's OK anyway, but that thought crossed my mind while I was wrangling a giant toddler on my lap). 
It basically doubles the amount of stuff you can have out of your bag -- because you can still have books or magazines or what-have-you in the seat pocket plus the smaller things easily accessible in the tote (and less likely to be lost in the depths of the main pocket).

They have versions that hold an iPad or bigger reader and they have jazzier colors and different options. I think this product is really cool, and I know I couldn't make it for the $15 I paid (let's face it, I couldn't make it period). If you're a frequent traveler or just looking for a way to make juggling travel with a kid (or without) easier this product might be worth looking into. If you get it let me know what you think!

Pink Camo Hooded Capelet

It's a little too big, so I'm already working on a smaller one (using thinner yarn and a smaller hook) in different colors. I know she'll grow into this one in no time anyway. Jane picked out the yarn.

Parent-Centered Blogging?

Writing about her childhood vs. writing about my parenthood. Is there a difference? Which do I do, if any?

In looking for places to write online, I stumbled across an article about mommy bloggers sharing too much -- and the growing number of women sharing details of their children's lives online. And is there a difference between writing about your children's lives and writing about your own life raising children?

In the comments someone writes about the idea of a mommy blogger as memoir writer, which seems a much classier label.

But there is also a comment about the scary world of people using your baby pictures for nefarious purposes. SCARY.

I know Jane's picture is on Pinterest at least once because of the homemade boogie wipes post I did. Not that there's anything wrong with Pinterest or the people who pinned the article (or that it being on Pinterest somehow makes it more likely to be swiped from my site). I just wonder if I should be more protective of her image and stories.


At church I'm part of a "witness committee" that has done several things in the last few months, including a new system of welcoming first time guests to the church.

Rationally I get why I should be open to being recognized as a new guest -- older people don't seem to remember younger people's faces, even though I've been attending the church for two and a half years.

But today a woman WHO IS ON THE COMMITTEE WITH ME introduced herself and acted like we'd never met.


In her defense (?) she has been to ONE meeting of the half a dozen we've had. But we've emailed several times recently about a new program we're working on, and even though I'd only seen her that one time I knew EXACTLY who she was.

I was probably a little rude, reminding her of our shared committee work. But I did joke about how I had my hair brushed, which always makes me look different (straight hair with makeup vs. messy bun without makeup). I felt a little guilty about it when I was reliving it with Shawn, who was standing next to me the whole time -- and she hadn't met him before, so there was that.

Somehow I don't think she'll forget me again, but I guess we'll see.

Carry On Packing with a Toddler

I'm struggling with how to keep my backpack carry on from weighing as much as my toddler. But I am having no success. Why is my bag so heavy? Here is what I packed for Minneapolis:
  • Laptop (soooo heavy, but essential to me) and charger
  • Kindle, iPod, phone and chargers
  • DSLR camera (only the one lens but it's still bulky and fragile)
  • Wallet and ticket holder, 2-3 pens, lip balm, hand sanitizer
  • Glasses, sunglasses, contacts holder, medicine (sometimes keys too)
  • Diaper wallet (Pronto Changing Station by Skip Hop -- highly recommend for travel and daily diaper bag use) packed with diapers, wipes, cream
  • Lovey -- soft, small blanket (not taking chances this gets lost, although I think I'm more attached to it than she is)
  • Change of clothes for Jane in a ziplock bag (in case of emergency)
  • Baby books -- try to keep them small and light, including some about airports and travel, a mix of new and old, and at least one coloring book
  • Crayons, small notebook and stickers in a zippered pouch
  • Fisher Price magnet drawing toy (Jane loved it) and other assorted small, lightweight toys
  • Dog backpack/stuffed animal (Jane wears this, but it has to fit before we get through security)
  • Ring sling (I put this on after security too)
  • Sippy cup (to fill up after security)
  • Snacks -- for us and for Jane 
Shawn had her lunch bag, extra books and emergency diapers in his backpack. He also gathers overflow when we get off the plane to make re-packing my bag easier.

So, what should I leave out? Obviously I can travel without my computer. My brain doesn't work well on iPod alone (and I don't have a tablet/don't think it would be much different anyway ... I love to type). I can't pack the computer in the carry on roller bag because we have to use regional jets to get out of Baton Rouge, which means the bigger carry ons get valet checked. Can't take that chance in any case. I could pack lighter snacks I guess, although what we took wasn't a lot.

On our next travel it will just be me and Jane (YIKES), and I think I will forgo the computer (it's a shorter trip) and maybe even the big camera (I just got a small one to carry with me in the diaper bag). I'll also try to keep the toys and books to a minimum (although I'd rather be a Sherpa than have a crying baby on a plane when it could be remedied with something I could have carried).

Should I use a non-backpack? Would that make a difference? Then I would just have it sitting on top of the roller bag when we are on the move and it could still stuff under the seat on the plane.

I'll keep thinking...

My Daughter's Hair

Jane's hair is getting out of control. A first haircut is in order. I didn't realize how traumatic the idea would be for me. But I'm quaking in my flip flops thinking about it while simultaneously wanting to take scissors to it myself. There are competing voices in my head about it, namely:
  1. Her hair is beautiful and natural, just let it grow (hippie?)
  2. Her hair is tangly and gets in her eyes, cut it yourself and be done with it (practical hippie? or maybe just cheap)
  3. Her hair will look jacked up if you cut it yourself -- take her to a kid salon! (yuppie?)
 (Dada says she can have long hair when she can comb it herself!)
Long, wild hair at Lake Calhoun near Minneapolis
I'm pondering my own hair at the same time. The grey is starting to show more, at least to my eye. And I happened to read a book this week "Going Gray" -- that I didn't really like but was all about how our ideals of beauty are firmly entrenched in not-grey hair. So I've been noticing grey more (there's a lot of it at church). I am not ready for the upkeep of regular coloring, so nothing is going to happen now.

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