August 5, 2019

Hello Again!

I can't believe I've only written two blog posts this year 😶

My last post was in March and so much has happened since then! If anyone is still reading this, I'll catch you up!

In June, we sold our house in Baltimore and bought a new house in the DC suburbs. We were in Baltimore exactly 18 months...not exactly prime time to sell the house that we had barely moved in to. The move was brought on by a few things. First, while my new job was only a 45 minutes drive without traffic, I never made it home in less than 90 minutes and, more often than not, it would take me two hours to get home. I had just gone back to work from maternity leave and was spending 11 hours away from my baby. It wasn't sustainable.

Commute aside, Baltimore was increasingly becoming a place we didn't want to live in. While it's less than an hour from DC, that hour made the drive seem really far. In the immediate weeks and months after Aurora was born, we barely had any visitors. When The Pilot went back to work after his parental leave, I was completely alone.The few friends we had in Baltimore didn't really make themselves available on those long weekends and I started dreading those weekends. We've been in the DC area for almost 7 years. DC is home and the friends we've made are family and Baltimore was just too far away to feel like we were still at home.

We never planned to be in Baltimore long-term. We always felt like three years would probably be it for us before we moved out of the area all together. The reality is that we were both unable and unwilling to buy a house in DC given the home prices there but wanted to invest in property. While we weren't in Baltimore long, selling that house gave us what we needed to be able to afford being closer to DC, while still giving us the ability to afford our home on one income in case one of us were ever to be out of work.

Our new house is perfect. I love everything about it. It's a brick, four-level split house on a cul-de-sac with an enormous yard and plenty of space for entertaining. We pretty much unpacked the essentials, painted the entire house, and haven't done anything else since. I have never felt so unsettled this long after a move but I come home every day so happy to be home. DC is a quick metro ride away and we see friends several nights a week. We're home and it feels so good.

This week, Aurora will be 10 months old and she's so much fun. She's been crawling for about two months now, has her two bottom teeth, says Mama and Dada, and is so curious about the world. This past week, she started laughing when she finds something funny and I love it. I absolutely love watching her grow, watching her mind work while she's figuring out a new toy, or trying to do something new.

I'm really loving my new job. I work with an amazing team of talented, fun people and I love being back on a college campus. It's weird to be thinking in terms of semesters again but I'll get used to it soon enough. While I've always been someone who strongly maintains that summer ends in late September, this new role is forcing me to think about summer being almost over as I'm gearing up for a busy fall semester. I'll also be taking a class this semester - just one to really get my feet back in academia but I'm so excited for it!

I'm also training for the Marine Corps Marathon. I'm technically in my 4th week of training but Aurora's first daycare cold sidelined me for two weeks and I'm just now getting back into running. I was following a 16-week marathon training plan that I wasn't really loving so I found a new, 12-week plan that I'm now following that I think will work a lot better for me while also catching me up after missing two weeks of training. It'll be three years since I've run a marathon and I'm excited to get back out there and tackle the distance! Finding time and space to run around The Pilot's schedule has been tricky but it's also held me accountable. I know I need to run on the days he's home or I'll derail my training for the week so that's been a big shift in my training.

The last 10 months have brought on more change in one year than I ever thought possible. Having a baby, leaving my job for a new one that, while is technically in the same field, feels like a major career move, selling our house, buying a house, and's been a lot! But I don't think I've ever been happy. These changes have all been good and wonderful things and I love where we are right now as a family. This new move also has us talking about staying in DC much more long-term, which is what we've always wanted but weren't sure would be possible so things are really, really good right now.

If I had to pick a downside it's that we haven't been on a vacation since January. I live by a motto of taking quarterly vacations...whether it's a weekend getaway or a big trip. Our two vacations that we had planned this year were derailed by the delay in the sale of our home (a process that - no kidding - was extremely traumatic) and our air conditioning breaking during the biggest heat wave to hit DC in something like half a century. We have a big vacation planned next month but I'm really hoping we can get away before that!

Until next time...

March 11, 2019

Back to Work

Today marks my fourth week back at work since maternity leave. Although, instead of going "back" to work, I started a new job, one that is already proving to be infinitely less stressful and demanding than my previous one. Despite having a roughly 2.5 hour roundtrip commute each day, I'm feel like I have so much more balance in my life than my previous one. In similar vein with my last post, this post is all about the new role I'm navigating - the role of working mom.

I thought I would have a really hard time going back to work, especially with so much change, but so far, my experience has been really positive. 

It helps that I was home with Aurora for 18 weeks. I have long advocated and supported paid maternity (and paternity!) leave and I truly believe that 6 months should be the standard minimum. I didn't feel like I was leaving my newborn behind. I didn't feel like I had barely recovered from childbirth. I felt ready to go back to work. I miss my baby when I'm at work but since I've been back, my weekends feel like a wonderful eternity of playtime.

It helps that our childcare situation is pretty ideal. The Pilot is home with her 3 days every week and we have a couple of part-time nannies that come over the other days. My mom has also come down to stay with us for a week each month since I've been back. We do want to put her in daycare in the fall so that The Pilot can have his weekends back but this is a really ideal situation for right now.

It helps that I'm working with other new moms. A few of my new colleagues are new parents or will be soon and they've been in my shoes and have been really supportive helping me navigate not just my new role and workplace but my pumping breaks and communicating to my male colleagues why the new girl is away from her desk so often!

It helps that I have a long commute. Ok, this is probably the weirdest thing I'll say. I hate driving. I bought a brand new car in July before Aurora was born and dragged my feet for 3 months before The Pilot made me go to the dealership because I needed to have my own car when The Pilot's sits at the airport for 4 days at a time. When I worked from home, I really never stopped working. It was not unusual for me to work 7-7 or even later some nights. I had a lot of midnight deadlines with clients that really toed the line of how late they could push that. (I once submitted a $2M grant proposal at 11:59pm.) Having a long commute gives me time to think about my day and unwind. The commute is long but I don't sit in standstill traffic every day. I would trade it tomorrow for a shorter commute to spend more time at home with Aurora but I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when I took this job and I spent two months thinking about whether I could do that commute, so now that I'm in the thick of it, I'm going to look at the bright side. Plus, audiobooks are a godsend!

So there are a lot of things working in my favor right now. I've figured out my commute and pumping, now I just need to figure out how I can start working out again but four weeks in, and I'm feeling really good about navigating my new role as a working mom. The days The Pilot is away are a tricky to navigate and a little more tiresome than the days I have his help but honestly, I feel like I have my shit together way more than I did before I had a baby. My days have to be more structured and so they are, and that's made this navigation much easier. There is still a lot I have to figure out and I know there are going to be times when this feels impossible, but right now, I'm happy.

February 1, 2019

2019: New Year, New Me

It's a little late for a New Year's post but I've been trying to think about what to write for my first post of the year...and first post in over a month.

I've seen so many posts slamming the whole "New Year, New Me" mentality but in my case, it isn't so much a mentality as a reality. This year, I'm a mother and, I've settled into a much different routine with very different priorities. 

I'm also starting a new job this month, moving out of the world of consulting into academia and I'm wildly excited about. In a lot of ways, I feel like this job is the dream job I never knew existed. I know that's saying a lot before I've even started but everything about this just feels right. And I think that's saying a lot considering I wasn't looking for a new job and definitely wasn't planning to leave where I was. I was happy there and comfortable but we grow when we leave our comfort zones so I'm looking forward to it.

I do love the start of the New Year and thinking of what the year will bring. I already know that this year is going to be fun. Aurora will say her first words, take her first steps, and experience so many firsts! And I'll be along for the ride juggling a new job with parenting and running and reading and yoga and all the things I've done before, trying to maintain some semblance of me in this new role. I know it won't be easy and if I've learned anything from parenting, it's to stop putting pressure on myself. The dishes might pile up but if Aurora wants to play, I'm going to play with her. 

That said, I do like goals so here are my (hopefully realistic) goals for the year, and how I've done in January to date!

Read 3 books each month. I crushed this in January, reading a total of 6 books! I always want to make reading a priority, especially now that I have a baby. I want her to see me reading and do the same when she's older. It helps that she's at an age now where she's too distracted to nurse in anything but a quiet room where I can get some reading done!

Run a marathon. I'm not quite running yet but I'm doing a combination of walking with running and plan to be running again in a few weeks. I have my sights set on a fall marathon. As much as I'm still dying to get that sub-4 marathon off my back, I don't have any time goals. I just want to tackle the distance again. It's been way too long.

Keep traveling. I was shocked at how many people asked me how I reconciled giving up travel for a baby. I've never had any intention of giving up travel. We got Aurora her passport for Christmas and, while we haven't used it yet, we will soon. In her 3 and a half months, we've taken her to Virginia, New Jersey, and Florida. Next up is a trip to Texas and then we'll start thinking about an international trip. Traveling with a baby, so far, is easy. I have no expectations that it will stay that way but I don't think that means it has to stop. 

Maintain a regular yoga practice. Every January, I do Yoga with Adriene's 30 Day Yoga Challenge. This year was no different. I'm about a week behind since long travel days and a sinus infection got in my way but I never actually thought I would be able to do the challenge in 30 days with a baby. I gave myself the grace and space to step off the mat when I needed to. Sometimes that meant that a 20-minute video took an hour because she woke up from a short nap or got fussy but I still got it done. I'm carrying the challenge into February and have every intention of completing it by the middle of the month and then, we'll see! I'm lucky to belong to a gym that offers both yoga and childcare but I haven't actually taken any classes yet. Usually, I can get to the gym and get in a 30-35 minute workout before she wakes up and needs to eat but now that she's a little bit older, her naps are getting longer and she can play independently. 

It's strange to look ahead at this year. In a way, everything has changed but in a lot of ways, things are the same. I had a lot of time to think about what life after a baby would look like (more time than I wanted) and even though everyone says you can't prepare for a baby, I think I was pretty well prepared. As for my blog, I'll post in this space when I can but I'm not going tp make ambitious promises like I have in years past. It's taken me close to a month to write this post (because I was reading so much!) but I'm hoping to be back soon!

Happy New Year!
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