Archive for ‘Work’

August 23, 2011

A Temporary Full-Time Job

Last week I had an unexpected but super fun work engagement change our schedule, big time.  What I thought might be a morning and maybe an afternoon away from home turned into three full days and two evenings.  Which meant that three days of business as usual with the little man turned into half a week with him in New Jersey, living the life of a “real” working mom for the first time.

 

I don’t know that I would have proposed the arrangement on such short notice, but with a fantastic grandma, who happens to be a teacher—and thus has summers off—it seemed like a good deal for everyone.  Jacob and his grandparents got some great bonding time, and I got a taste of what it’s like to be away from my baby all day.

 

Though I spent time with the Peanut in the mornings and the evenings, getting him ready for the day or for bed, and playing some too, it was nowhere near as much time as we normally have together. Thankfully our workspace was close to my parents’ house and I was able to nurse Jacob once each day, when he needed it (the bottle was a no-go).  Still, I’d never before experienced that seeing-him-again-at-the-end-of-the-day thing, and while it’s sad to be away, that moment when we were together again was awesome.  The kid has a killer smile.

 

Because Jacob is eleven months old, nursing less and napping more regularly, and because there was family around to care for him, I avoided the stress I imagine other working moms encounter when choosing childcare for their little ones, post-maternity leave. Knowing how I tend to over-think things, and considering how stressed I am about Jacob’s allergies and what to feed him both now and when he weans, I would guess I would have slept close to never throughout the childcare-choosing process, if John and I had decided to go that route.  Kudos to those who do it with such grace and trust!

 

I know and respect moms who work in a more traditional environment than I do, and I’m grateful to have a glimpse into what their days are like.  To some extent, I think I’ve always understood why some mothers go back to work, when it’s not about money. Before we were married, John and I knew our plan was for me to stay home when children came along, and try my hand at freelance work.  But when the time came to make the transition, I really struggled with it.  I legitimately had my dream job.  But I knew that what God had given, God could take away, and this was a time I could exercise my trust in Him in a real and tangible way.  I also knew that if I didn’t trust in Him, if I went back on what I’d promised my family, we’d all lose in the end.

 

Having eight hours a day to concentrate on something with only minor interruptions and to dig into a project I believe in and see my contribution make progress was great.  I see how valuable that time can be in maintaining psychological balance in one’s life.  I’m still working on work/home priorities and balance, and while I am grateful that I am blessed with the work I have, it’s tough to fit it all in sometimes.  Having a chance to really do one thing at a time was kind of refreshing.

 

Still, it’s not what’s right for me full-time right now. I know that at some point all our kids (God willing!) will be in school, and if I choose to go back to an office environment, hopefully what I’ve been doing in the meantime—both my freelance work and raising kids/managing a household—will help make that a possibility.

 

I’ve been singing “Amazing Grace” to Jacob a lot lately, and these verses sum up my experience pretty well:

 

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

 

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

 

Amen!

 

July 21, 2011

My Home, the Office

Maybe it’s because I’ve always had a minor infatuation with office supplies (really, who doesn’t?), but when I was growing up, I was kind of excited about the idea of working in an office.  This was plenty before Michael Scott or Jim and Pam made it cool.  This was just me, my best friend, and the pens, paper, and old telephones our parents let us use to pretend.

 

I realize now that with the exception of my job at Borders, all the time I’ve spent working in and after college has been in an office setting.  Sounds super exciting, right?  Exactly the adventure a globetrotting college student looks for in the midst of her higher education.

 

Actually, it was.  From my school’s internship office to a couple of publishing houses, then a literary agency, and then another publishing house, I was always surrounded by people who were smart, funny, and passionate about their jobs.  And, of course, Post-Its.

 

Now I am happily discovering how my assistant positions in the workforce have prepared me for my job as stay-at-home-mom and co-manager of a household (apartmenthold?), freelance business aside. This post was prompted by the realization that my trips to Office Max are becoming more and more frequent.  While some of the items I’m looking for are for business-related, most of them are intended to keep things rolling on the home front.  Really, there is as much organizing, following up, and filing to do in a home as there is in an office.

 

For example, I have a plastic bin with hanging folders containing everything from medical and insurance information to keepsake cards John and I have given one another or received from family to forms we’ll need to file our taxes next year (hooray!).  I’m in and out of that box at least once a week, either with something new to file or to retrieve some tidbit of information.

 

Because I am internet-recipe-hunting obsessed, I also have a binder with printouts of recipes I’ve tried or want to try.  The OfficeMax trip this week was, in part, to purchase tabbed dividers to better organize the binder (check it out—aren’t they beautiful?).  For the first time in my life, I’m consistently using the three-hole punch that fits in the binder.  My room was always messy when I was younger, but now I find not having piles of paper all over helps to keep my brain on straight.  Having a small desk (read: room for only one stack at a time) has been a real help on the organizational/sanity side, as well.

 

As helpful as most of my office experience has been, there are some things I picked up that aren’t really applicable at home.  At my last job, I once (or twice) almost tipped a file cabinet on myself by opening both drawers at once.  Yes, I was pregnant both times.  Yes, I will blame it on being overtired or just too darn hungry to think.

 

Still, now when I’m putting laundry away, I’ll only open one drawer at a time, because I forget that in a dresser, more than one drawer can open at once.  And maybe because a little bit of me is afraid the dresser is going to fall on me.  Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about that occupational hazard anymore.

 

And thank goodness there are just as many uses for Post-Its at home as there are in a cubicle.

July 12, 2011

Dancing Home

Today is a very special day in my life as an editor.  The first book I edited—Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada and her son, Gabriel M. Zubizarreta—was published today by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing Division.

 

 

Dancing Home is a story for middle-grade readers (ages 9-12) that alternates between the perspectives of Mexican-American Margie and her Mexican cousin Lupe.  Margie has finally convinced the kids in her California school that she is one-hundred percent American, just like they are. But when Lupe comes to visit and attend school with Margie for a year, everything changes.  Margie resents the effect Lupe’s arrival has on her family, her friends, and her life at school.  Meanwhile, Lupe is struggling to learn a new language and find her place in a new school.  Both girls are in need of a friend, and with the help of a special Mexican dance, they find one in one another.

 

The book is being simultaneously published in English and Spanish (I helped very little with the Spanish edition, Nacer bailando—majoring in German really wasn’t practical).  Although I did the majority of the editorial work on the English edition before I left S&S in November, there was still plenty of work to do by the other incredibly talented people at Atheneum.  I recently got advance copies of both editions, and let me tell you, they did a beautiful job.

 

Clearly this book has a special place in my heart, and I was delighted to find that trade review journals liked it, too!  Here’s what they had to say:

 

“The third-person narration shifts its focus gently from girl to girl, allowing readers access to their thoughts and feelings…. Although sometimes wise beyond their years, Margie and Lupe will charm readers as each girl struggles for belonging and acceptance in this realistic novel.”

KIRKUS REVIEWS, June 1, 2011

“This story will assist readers in embracing their own heritage and developing an appreciation for their classmates’ backgrounds. It’s an enjoyable offering (and a great read-aloud) that will capture readers’ attention and have them rooting for the cousins and their friendships and family relationships.”

School Library Journal, July 2011

“Ada, the author of many multicultural titles, including Tales Our Abuelitas Told: A Hispanic Folktale Collection (2006), and Zubizarreta write knowingly of the difficulties of a life lived in two cultures. A subplot involving Lupe’s father (who came to America illegally and later abandoned his family) is also well handled, as is the inclusion of a Ruben Dario poem, “To Margarita.” Give this to fans of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising (2000) and Becoming Naomi Leon (2004).”

Booklist, July 1, 2011

 

Next time you’re at a bookstore or the library, stop over to the children’s section and check it out.

 

Congratulations to Alma Flor and Gabriel on the publication of their book!

 

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