Monday, 26 November 2012

Cons of Maternity Leave (Not really...)

Sure, for me I've found in the last six months or so that maternity leave definitely beats working in an office, even with all of the challenges of being a new mom.  Even so, there are some cons to being on maternity leave and so many changes in my usual routines that someday's I'm still reeling from all the change.  The top 3 that keep coming to mind are:

Cons to being on Maternity Leave

Limited Adult Conversation
I admit I'm not that outgoing of a person naturally and I didn't have a job where I was in a lot of regular meetings or on the phone frequently, but I still had a lot more adult conversation than I do now!  Most of my day is spent one on one with my son alone which is different than working in an office with little privacy, and lots of people dropping by to request help with one thing or another.

To keep myself from getting isolated because of this I try to go out at least once a day and connect with friends a few times a week, even if it's just through email.

Less Freedom to Come & Go 
Some days it's such an effort to just keep up with my little guy, let alone think about going outside of the house somewhere!  Luckily my son was born in the summer so the beautiful, warm, and sunny weather usually beckoned me outside at least for a little jaunt or two.  It's not the same as before I was a mom, when at any moment you could just grab your purse and go with out a second thought.  So although I have more freedom to do what I want with my time than when I was working 8 or 9 hours a day, it's not so simple.

To make things easier to do a quick get up and go, I keep baby essentials in a small bag at the door that can be grabbed quickly and put into any handbag.  I also keep multiple toys and blankets in both cars and our little umbrella stroller in our small car and the larger stroller in the larger car.  At least then I can leave and it's not as big of a planning expedition.

My shopping
When I was working I used to shop quickly on my coffee break and at lunch time.  Since I worked in downtown Toronto I had many different places to shop and I didn't have to rush.  I also admittedly shopped for totally "selfish" reasons, including new shoes, purses, clothes, and other accessories.  My only real limit was my budget.  Now I technically have more time to shop since I'm not working but have to either push my son in a stroller or carry him in a baby carrier which I prefer.  I hate maneuvering the stroller so most days I carry my son in the carrier which limits the number of bags I can carry since I'm already carrying him!  Obviously the shopping budget is different now being on leave too...

I've found the best way to deal with the shopping changes are to go with the flow.  Since my son prefers the baby carrier, that's what I use, just so I can at least go shopping and keep him happy and quiet.  Sure it would be easier to have him sitting quietly in the stroller so I wouldn't have to schlep bags on top of carrying him.  The problem when I put him in a stroller he always seems to only last 30 minutes before he starts screaming and then I end up carrying him and somehow pushing the stroller too.  Not a good idea.

Having such a major change in your life as welcoming a beautiful baby comes with it's many adventures, delights and challenges.  Everyone learns as they go along what works for them and their family and what keeps their little one happy.  Everyday is a learning experience, way more than when I was at work.

How did being on maternity leave compare to working for you?  What were the biggest pluses and minuses of your new routine?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Taste of the Season Niagara on the Lake Wine Tour

In this post I'm going to talk about a wine event that I look forward to every year, and why I love it.  In my next post I'll talk about my favourite food and wine pairings at the event this year.

Every year Niagara on the Lake holds a special wine tour in November called Taste of the Season. When you attend the event you get a passport to try a food and wine pairing at over 25 wineries in the area.  My husband and I discovered this event in 2006 when we were still dating.  This event was our first day trip and now it's a tradition since we go every year.  We even went last year when I was 3 months pregnant, but I only ate the food and no wine!  This year it was the first time we were away from our son for longer than a few hours.

I love the event because its not just about wine tasting, its also about the pairings and what types of foods go with different wines.  Niagara is a beautiful setting too and you can visit so many wineries that have different strengths in reds, whites or ice wines.  In one day or a weekend, depending on how you do the tour, you get to try such a great variety of wines, paired with savoury and sweet appetizer sized bites.  It's also a bonus to check out each winery with it's distinct interior design.

The first time I went on the tour it took some getting used to how wine tours work and all of the terms the people serving you would mention.  Even to this day I generally judge things on if I simply like the taste of the wine and the wine has a good finish.  I may have a good palate and a good nose, but can't really identify things they mention like "notes of berries, coffee, chocolate", etc.  My husband on the other hand is more of a wine expert since he has traveled and sampled wine in so many different regions of Europe and took a few general interest wine courses at a Community College.  Since my husband and I take two different perspectives on the tastings it makes it quite the adventure.

The great thing about the tour is I always seem to come away with interesting factoids about wine.  Its good to have a few wine tidbits to bring up at your next dinner party or work event!  Here are a few things I learned:

1. I learned that ice wine is best enjoyed when it doesn't hit the tip of your tongue first because it is very sweet.  It is better when the ice wine hits the back of your mouth so the sweetness is more muted.

2. Ice wine is so prized and more expensive than regular wine because much less juice can be extracted from  frozen grapes leading to less product that can be used to create the wine.  The juice also has a lot more concentrated sugar, leading to the wonderful sweetness that ice wine is known for.

3. Unoaked Chardonnay is different because the wine isn't stored and aged in oak wine barrels.  The wine is stored in stainless steel barrels or other non-oak barrels.  This changes the taste of the Chardonnay into a more fruity, crisper taste.

In my next post I will be revealing my husband and my top 3 favourite food and wine pairings for this year's visit.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Pros of Maternity Leave

On a similar topic to my last post on the differences between Maternity leave and working in an office, I was thinking this week about some daily pros and cons of being on maternity leave.  Missing the commute came to mind when watching news early in the morning, the annual review came to mind because its that time of year, and leaving my card behind came to mind when I thought I lost my house keys this week.  Right now I'm trying to emphasize the pros to being on leave, next week I'll talk about three cons.

Pros to being on Maternity Leave

Missing the Commute
Most days I wake up early with my son and it's funny to turn on the TV or radio and hear about the morning commute.  It doesn't sound nice to gloat, but really it is funny to sit there half bleary listening to news of traffic jams and train switch problems and it has no effect on you at all!  I used to take the train downtown before I was pregnant and in the last few months of pregnancy I drove to work.  Most days the commute was just routine, but then there were days when I really dreaded it. Over 1.5 hours a day wasted, no more.

Not having the annual Review
In school I didn't mind report card time or exams that much.  I did well in most subjects and got along with many teachers.  That didn't prepare me for the fun of work reviews.  They weren't like report cards in school which were done by the teacher and handed to you without discussion or debate.  Work reviews were almost the exact opposite and being an introvert I dreaded them.  I dreaded the discussion of a rating for my year of work.  How could a year of work and so many projects be distilled into one rating?  Then the discussion of a possible raise or bonus?  I hated that even more.  Don't get me wrong I enjoyed getting the resulting raise or bonus if I did, but the stuff leading up to it, I wasn't a fan of.  So at this time of year when the review would take place, it's like a sigh of relief that I don't have to have one.

One last thing on reviews.  Its not like I don't get reviewed by my infant son everyday.  I do.  His reviews are totally honest, instant and frequent.  His reviews are also delivered with much passion and quite loudly at times.  I like it much better that way.

Not having an access card to get in & out of your office
I admit it, I have a horrible memory.  Especially when I was pregnant.  My memory just got worse.  My office had a security access card entry like most downtown offices.  The security was there to keep out thieves, (many a laptop had gone missing over the years).  I hated this system because I forgot my card at least once a week.  So I'd have to go borrow one from a coworker anytime I wanted to go for a coffee or to lunch or to a meeting.  It was a painful, dreadful day when that happened.  For some reason it made me feel a little bit too much like a prisoner!  Well, being at home I obviously don't have to worry about this.  Funny thing is with a baby you can't come and go as you please so easily either, and there a lot of things you can forget, but its not the same thing, and I'm glad.

These are just three personal pros of maternity leave that came to my mind.  What are some of yours?  Next week I'll describe three cons.  They will be harder to come by though, I admit.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Top 10 Differences - Mat Leave & Working in an Office

This Saturday, November 10th, was my son's 6 month's "birthday".  So, being deep into my maternity leave routine I've been thinking a lot about the differences in my old routine and my new reality.  So I thought I'd do the Top 10 differences between working in a downtown Toronto office and being at home on maternity leave.

1. Every trip anywhere takes way longer than before to get ready and out the door, with all the baby gear.  I always seem to forget something too.  And just when I'm almost out the door my son either spits up on me or needs his diaper changed.  No more waking up 10 minutes before I need to go somewhere and "schleping" things together as I rush out the door!

2. The monotony of 1.5 hours total commuting on a train versus staying at home.  I definitely get a seat, without any pushing or fighting - any seat in the house, (unless there's a cat sitting on it). 

3. Listening to baby songs, (B-I-N-G-O) and nursery rhymes instead of blasting music in my car on the way to the GO train station and on my iPod.

4. Instead of being stuck at my cubicle staring at a computer screen  - stuck on the couch feeding my son for hours!

5. I have the best boss in the world - my little guy.  He always reviews me highly, and I'm sure he would give me a raise and promotion if he could.  

6. My favourite difference between maternity leave and the office is being able to make my own breakfast and lunch instead of eating in a food court or bringing in cold leftovers.  I like cooking and eating breakfast and lunch better than making dinner, (I leave that for my hubby). 

7. Talking to adults about sales results, numbers, numbers, and more numbers, versus talking to my son about "1,2,3s" and "A, B, Cs".  I can't wait to teach him everything I know, hopefully he'll like math, because I can't remember anything about history or science.

8. Bored at my desk staring at photos of my cats, vs. sitting beside my cats! It's way more fun to be sitting beside them and it's nice to be surrounded by someone who is always happy to see you.  Even if they're cats... 

9. I get WAY less colds, or flu.  When I commuted in a crowded train with everyone and their uncle coughing and sneezing I seemed to go from one cold to the next.  I always dreaded the warm pole. You know the one - when you're trying to hold on when the train is moving fast and you grab a pole someone else was just holding.  Yes, I'm a bit of a "germaphobe"! 

10. I wake up usually two hours earlier than when I worked - Who knew?  At least I get to have naps when the little man decides to cooperate!

Do any of these things sound familiar to you?  What differences did you notice between maternity leave and work?

Friday, 2 November 2012

New Mom - New Life

Today I'm launching my blog to hopefully work towards doing what I love for a living.  What do I mean by that?  Well right now I'm half way through my maternity leave from a job I haven't enjoyed working at for a long time. The months until my scheduled return to the office, (yikes) are counting down as I write this.  The question of do I go back to work or become a SAHM or WAHM looms, (acronyms are not just for the office)!

So how did I get here?  When I was taking care of my hungry, growing newborn I spent a ton of time glued to the sofa feeding him.  And as new mom I ha a thousand questions that I couldn't always find in a book or through chatting with other moms.  I started browsing the web.  I was so happy to find a community of mommy bloggers on Twitter and other social networks.  I was hooked and wondered if I could have a voice in this world and what the heck I would talk about?

Doing what I love seemed the easiest way to contribute my voice.  To really dig into what I love I thought back to my childhood.  The first thing I ever wanted to be that I can clearly remember is an artist.  Followed closely behind by interior decorating, cooking, writing and being an entrepreneur.  I was a Gemini child that was all over the place! 

At the time I didn't know constantly moving furniture in my bedroom and drawing where it should go was an interior design interest. I also didn't think that making bracelets and selling them with a warranty, (to fix any problems) was being a little entrepreneur!
I'd like to use this blog to get back in touch with my first loves.  It will be a journey creating this blog and staying motivated to take a step everyday to make it special.  I hope you'll drop by and visit regularly!

So, here I go......