Sunday, December 19, 2010

Odds and Ends

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time: We hosted the annual family Christmas party again this year. It was kind of a lot of work, to drag extra tables and chairs and decorations and food from the basement or wherever to accommodate around 30 people (with a baby in tow), but we did it. I even made time to make these:
That's right. Gourmet cupcakes (homemade! fondant!) and cake pops (thank you, bakerella). I mean -- cake pops, bitches. My sister made the fondant and decorated my cupcakes, and I made the cake pops and decorated with her help. I had to make them in stages, step by step, around Jackson's schedule. Step 1: bake cupcakes (in between 8AM feeding and pumping). Step 2: make cake balls and stash in fridge (during swing nap). Step 3: coat cake balls in white or chocolate candy and let dry (pausing to shush awake, crying baby after every 2-3 cake pops are coated). Step 4: add decorations to cake pops (this part takes an eternity, so my sister and I alternated between decorating and entertaining the boy who was wide awake at this point and uninterested in taking any sort of nap). Step 5: EAT. Nom. They're pretty tasty and not that hard once you get the hang of it. I can't wait for the next excuse to make them -- I have plans that'll BLOW YOUR MINDS. You'll see.

The party was a hit, although one branch of the family tree has total monsters for children who are hard to manage (they LOOK sweet but they are hideous inside). They're mean, don't share, have never been told "no" in their tender young lives (7 and 4 years old, girl and boy) and are utterly impossible to leave unattended for 10 seconds lest your house get burnt to the ground. Except their parents totally leave them unattended at all times. I had to pull the 4-year-old out of our baby swing, off of the baby playmat, etc., etc. repeatedly (like, many, many times) because I would tell him so very nicely -- in my twee mommy voice -- to please not play with those things because they are for a tiny baby and he is such a big boy, and he would just stare at me with dead eyes and keep working with all his might to break whatever was in his cold, destructive little fists. Just, dude. It's not just a "kid thing" because the other kids at the party, whose parents apparently do believe in boundaries and respect for others, were pretty well-behaved and when told "no" would stop what they were doing without question and find something more productive to do. So, yeah, next year we have to process-improve and a) remove all things we don't want touched by little Damien out of the main floor of the house and completely out of sight and b) designate an attentive, responsible parent (so, not one of theirs) to be the Kid Wrangler and keep them busy with appropriate activities. I mean, the rest of the kids sat in the living room and colored on the coffee table (even Beelzebub's sister sat with the other kids and colored, although she was nasty to the other kids and generally annoyed the snot out of everyone). Our house will be kid-proofed by next Christmas because Jackson will be over a year old (!) and crawling or walking, so that may help minimize temptation. I can't make Thing One and Thing Two into better children just because they're in my house, and I doubt they'll improve with age. *le sigh* I guess it's useful for me to observe little Voldemort's behavior so I build up my arsenal of what-not-to-dos. Oh, and there was also an endless parade of assvice from the elders (we're spoooiiiillling him by holding him so much!) but generally everyone was in love with our little monkey and just wanted to hold him themselves. He slept through most of the party, pausing only for his usual 2PM and 5PM feedings and a couple of britches changes. I did have to change his cute party sweater in favor of footie pajamas after he failed the smell test from a bout of milk-spew. Or, he's just a diva and needs wardrobe changes during his special events. (For this appearance, he got paid in boob juice. But you should have seen his rider.)

Back-to-Work Blues: I start work in 2 weeks. We start the daycare transition this week. *sob* My boss apparently told one of my coworkers, "I can't wait until Jen is back from maternity leave, so I can load her up with tons of projects!" Fuck. I carried more projects than my colleagues when I was pregnant and sick as a dog, and I constantly requested and was denied appropriate support. Not because my employer, as an institution, is inattentive to its employees; just my manager. In fact, everyone uniformly dislikes him and thinks he's a total douchenozzle, except (inexplicably) his own boss. Part of the problem is that he has a team of talented writers who cover for his terrible management (or lack thereof), so senior management only sees the work getting done with him taking all the credit. But performance review time is upon us, so I hope that either he gets his ass handed to him for being a total twatwaffle (thank you, 360 reviews) and/or I get transferred to another team. Because, oh yeah, I got reassigned to a different type of work than I was hired to do without my consent while on leave, and the new designation forces me to take regulatory writing projects that are chaotic, urgent, scope-shifting, and generally a pain in my asshole. Uh, not cool. I wrote my manager an email reminding him of my return to work and spelling out my reasons for rejecting this new designation and the shitball assignments that come with it. No response. No surprise. The slippery slope started happening last March, when I was put on his team and agreed to pick up a few random projects, and I fought it unsuccessfully during pregnancy (I didn't want to rock the boat when I was about to be out on an extended leave)...but I'm baaaa-aaaack and I'm kicking ass and taking names. I like this job, but I am not so in lurve with it that I will do literally anything to keep it. And this problem can pretty much all be chalked up to a totally out-to-lunch manager. My best bet is to get transferred to another team where I can go back to writing manuscripts for a living, which is what I signed up to do.

I'm just in the midst of a priority shift that feels right to me -- I want and need to work, but I'm not okay with work taking over my life and at any point being more important to me than my son. I don't want to be the mom who's always running late to get him from daycare, or who can't go on the fieldtrip with his class because I have a deadline, etc. I grew up as a latchkey kid with no parental guidance (under totally different circumstances, but still...) and I want for Jackson to know that he comes first, always. So, I'm being as deliberate as I can, asserting myself at work so they know that if they value me, they need to meet me halfway. I want the original job back that I interviewed for and accepted, not this hot mess they're asking me to do now. I want to flex my schedule to get work done by Thursday evening or Friday morning, so I can pick my son up early (or keep him home) on Fridays and have special time with him. (I maintained this schedule for the past year and a half, as do a lot of folks who work from home, but it depends upon me getting assigned a reasonable amount of work -- that's in question right now with my current manager). I want to determine the right set-point for work-life balance and have that honored. Or else. Just because I am capable of working like a slave doesn't mean I am willing. I have made the mistake in the past (well, it made sense at the time), agreeing to pick up extra projects -- particularly difficult projects and urgent projects -- but I am not *that* girl anymore.

Holla Back!: Some birth announcements happening our there in happy for you girls! Nothing better than new babies.

Random, Gratuitous Cuteness: My monkey!


jenicini said...

Cheers to you for having such a focused vision of what you want for work. I'm sitting here on my couch cackling and reading your descriptions of little Voldemort to my hubby, sister, and mom. Love it! That little man of yours is SUPER cute! Those cheeks are pinchable!

bunny said...

DAMN, them's some impressive baked goods! (I'm including Jackson here, of course.)

Complaining about other people's child-rearing appears to be a regular activity for parents, so I've always wondered how you can tell a monster from a regular child when every parent thinks his or her child is the only one with any manners. Now I have a good checklist--those kids sound like genuine demons. I guess you can say I told you so when they murder their parents.

I'm glad I don't have to worry about whether or not you will stand up for yourself and get what you need and deserve. Your description of your wants is so totally reasonable and thoughtful!

Lisa said...

I am seriously impressed by your baking talents. I have no such energy to accomplish things like that, especially with a baby to simultaneously care for. Good luck with the transition back to work. I need to adopt your take-no-shit attitude and start putting my foot down over all the late meetings I've been begrudgingly attending.

HeroCakePops said...

These cake pops came out super cute!!