So! I had this brilliant idea yesterday. Seeing as I'm on the cusp of attending a three-day blogging conference where I'll be passing out business cards with my URL on it, I thought it might make sense to--wait for it--BLOG. I know! Am genius. Tell all your friends.
Wonderful things have been happening these last few weeks, many of them related to my job, so that's what I'm going to start with first. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that my employer dropped two happy bombs on us in less than one week: the half-year profit-sharing bonus we received in June and the CEO's decision to transfer ownership of the company to his workers through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). You can learn more about ESOPs from our trusty friend, Wikipedia, but basically it means that the founder has given his baby, the business he started almost twenty years ago with his personal life savings, to those of us on the payroll. It translates into additional retirement savings for every one of us and voting rights on major decisions involving the company's future, not to mention a more tangible motivation to continue our current level of success. It was an emotional day when he broke the news, and as I learn more about the specifics, I am blown away by how lucky I am for not only having a stable job in a shaky economy, but a rewarding job with a company that only projects good things on the horizon, not to mention the opportunities I have to advance my skills and challenge myself professionally. As a result, for the first time in my life, I'm taking a proactive approach to my career, assuming new leadership roles and working alongside my boss and other team members to develop strategies for our department that will enable us to work more effectively. I've also been involved with some pretty exciting writing projects that jazz me up like nothing else, even when those projects are equal parts frustrating.
So many women who work outside the home are miserable in their jobs because they are unfulfilled by what they do, making it even harder to be away from their babies. And it IS hard to be away from my babies; I never look forward to Monday even after the most hectic of weekends, I'm always craving more time at home. But I can say with absolute certainty that my time away from them is well spent. Finding myself professionally has inspired me to take a long, hard look at my priorities outside the office and how I want to spend my time (contributing to this is the fact that I'm still reading Eat Pray Love and feeling very connected to the idea of nourishing my personal core). I'm also reflecting on the lessons I want my children to learn from me about finding their passion and also turning raw lemons into lemonade. It's been an energizing process, to say the least, and enlightening, to form a relationship with my company that mirrors a long-term partnership, a marriage of sorts where each side is committed to giving as much as it takes and overcoming obstacles in a way that leaves everyone's dignity intact.
Things have come to a bit of a standstill on the fitness front, and I can't believe I don't feel guilt about it, but I don't. Even with sporadic exercise and frequent surrenders to peanut butter cup blizzards, I've maintained an average loss of eight pounds, so I can't feel too bad when it's clear I must be doing something right. Unfortunately, an eight-pound loss post-baby isn't the same victory as an eight-pound loss before your body carries a child--my mid-section still looks three months pregnant--but hey, I'll take what I can get. I knew that the more time I allowed to lapse between workouts the harder it would be to get back into a routine, but life is still so topsy-turvy for us right now, and I hate to keep using that as an excuse, but it's also the truth. My girl crush on Jillian Michaels remains as strong as ever, but I'm at peace with sometimes (OK, a lot of times) choosing other ways to spend my time, knowing that life will settle down little by little and a night of rocking my son back to sleep won't always kill my desire to Shred the next day. I did buy some new gym shoes, though; that counts for something, right?
Nathan and me at Indy's "Unite to Fight: Race Against Prostate Cancer" family walk a couple of weeks ago. I carried Nathan while Luke pushed Kara in her stroller.
The continued anticipation of my Tori Amos concert next month along with the recent death of Michael Jackson (and I'll admit it, I am still so sad about that) combined have restored my interest in music. Not that I ever stopped being interested, but most of Luke's and my CDs have been living in a beat-up Tupperware bin in the back of our closet since we moved into this house, and I've been too lazy to dig out stuff as it appeals to my mood. Yesterday I got to thinking about all the songs I've been out of touch with simply because I haven't been able to find them, and it kind of pissed me off to the point that I finally said ENOUGH and organized the CD rack we bought well before Nathan was born. Alphabetized and everything, though I do wish I'd been able to categorize discs for each singer/group in the order they were released. Baby steps, people.
I also made a mixed CD of what I consider to be Tori Amos essentials so I don't have to switch discs to hear all my favorite songs. One of the reasons I'm still attracted to her music after all these years is its ability to become relevant as I gain more life experience. For example, Boys for Pele freaked me the hell out as a God-fearing high schooler, but as a married woman with two kids and a more sophisticated religious and world view, I'm more comfortable with the appeal they hold for me. When From the Choirgirl Hotel came out my senior year, I couldn't get past her new band sound to appreciate the lyrics, but in just the last week or so I found new meaning in a song I had completely written off. The biggest surprise has been my fascination with The Beekeeper. Those who only like Tori when she's angsty have no use for this one, and I understand; I didn't like it, either, not until well after I had Nathan and the softness of those songs found a place in my head. Anyway, all of that to say that the Tori I became enchanted with at 17 is not the same Tori I relate to today. It's pretty awesome when music grows with you.
I'm drinking coffee now. Me, the woman who swore she would never succumb to the drama that is depending on a caffinated beverage for survival, typically enjoys a thermosful doused with skim milk and sugar on the drive to work. With all the late nights I've had in the last month or two, I've been so tired in the mornings that one day when Luke asked if I would possibly benefit from a liquid pick-me-up I said HELL YES, WHERE DO I SIGN UP. And I said it again and again until Luke was grinding coffee beans as part of his morning ritual while I finished getting dressed. There's something to be said for sitting in my car with one hand on the steering wheel and the other balancing a drink, an act that wakes me up and transitions me from home to work in a way that my sans-coffee routine didn't. Maybe I feel more adult. Maybe the beans are that strong. Either way, I like it.
Luke spent this past Saturday at a theme park with a friend, so Molly and I took the opportunity to co-host Baby Day 2.0, and the kids had a blast together. They are all at such different stages now that it's hard to believe there's barely a full year between any of them. The Baby Day sequel marked the third weekend in a row that we had company, and it's been so nice to invite people over and watch their kids play with ours. Kara's now getting regular exposure to her peers through the daycare/nursery at church on Sundays, but other than that, not so much. So it was great to have my sister Samantha and her family with us for the Fourth of July and my friend Maia and her two girls the weekend after that. With upcoming BlogHer taking place in the trenches of my hometown, we'll have a straight month of Saturday-Sunday fun.
Here, the photographic evidence:
Kara and baby Danny, who will celebrate his first birthday next month. I say this every time I mention him, but I swear he is the spit and image of my sister.
Auntie Samantha and Uncle Dan entertaining their first and only nephew, with Nathan loving every minute of the attention.
Baby Day 2.0. Kara's all, "Girlfriend, where did you get that awesome striped shirt-dress? Don't hold out on a sista," And Marin's like, "A fashionista never reveals her secrets."
Meanwhile, Nathan and Marin decided to pose as if they were attending their first Baby Prom. Nathan may have even tried to grab her hand.
Molly loving on her godson. (At least, he will be her godson, once Luke and I can secure the fall baptism date with our pastor.)
And that's all, folks! I hate that my writing is so sparse here and that the entries I do post have to cover such a large span of time, but that's another aspect of life I'm slowly making peace with. Despite my fallen-to-the-wayside personal blogging, I'm super excited about BlogHer this year and learning new ways to feed my addiction increase my overall knowledge of social media. I'm probably one of the few attendees whose primary reason for going is to actually take part in the sessions. This year is weird, though, in the sense that I'm not part of any big blogger meet-up like I was two years ago, and since Luke and the kids will be with me, I doubt I'll make any of the parties. I'm OK with that, but I really hope to meet at least a few of the bloggers I read and/or who read me so I don't totally miss out on the networking aspect of the conference. I'm also debating whether I should bring my work laptop and try to liveblog any of the events. I've never been good with crafting blog posts on the fly (aka the reason this site so frequently collects dust), so I'm not sure how solid my entries would even be, but I'm definitely thinking about it.
Will any of you be in Chicago? If so, I'd love to say hi. And if you're doing the BlogHer 5K on Friday morning, you'll get to meet Mr. Nathan in person. If that's not reason enough to walk three miles before breakfast, I don't know what is.