Sunday, June 27, 2010

Higher Education

I graduated from college yen years ago with undergraduate degrees in Spanish and journalism. At first I promised I would never see the inside of a classroom again. But a few years later, I craved the challenge and enrichment of higher education.

I contemplated going back to grad school, even part time or online. But what would I study? Try for law school? Pursue a Masters in journalism? I took one online Masters in Media Management class. I learned a lot and felt invigorated, but the detachment of an online environment wasn't satisfying.

Then we moved to college town USA. Madison, Wisconsin: home of the University of Wisconsin. Higher education was at my fingertips. I scoured the grad school catalog, but found most of the programs required extensive prerequisites. Plus, I wanted to go back to work full time. Was it even practical?

Then in May, I took a closer look at UW's MBA program. It offered an evening program for working professionals. The deadline to apply for the fall semester was June 1st, just a few weeks away. What do I have to lose? I thought and plunged ahead.

I signed up for the GMAT, requested references, attended an informational session, compiled my resume, application, and transcript, and wrote the required essays. I showed up for the GMAT testing session utterly unprepared without so much as cracking a book or opening a website. I think I was scared to know what I was getting in to. The math was hard. I took math all the way up to Calculus in high school, then completed Statistics and Economics in college, but I honestly can't remember the simplest algebra.

Somehow, I figured out a fair amount of the math problems, did much better on the verbal, and squeaked out a passable 610. I breathed a sigh of relief over my high college GPA, felt confident in my varied professional experience, and believed I had a decent chance of acceptance.

It was a frantic few weeks, but the urgency made me productive. Then all I had to do was wait. At last, the email arrived in my inbox. I got in.

I was thrilled. I am thrilled. It is an incredible program including an international trip. But it will be a big commitment and a lot of work. I will have a new baby, two other kids, work, and school. But it is an opportunity I can't pass up. A great university is in my backyard, and an opportunity to improve myself and my career is right before me. We got through a stretched-thin two years when T earned his MBA. He was at school all day every Saturday and often at night during the week. Though it was tiring for us both, it honestly went quickly and was entirely worth it. He leaped forward in his career and learned a lot about how the business world works.

So another adventure begins.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

A place of my own

Last week I got my very own office. My very own. I have to say, I kind of love it.

I have never had my own office. For my first job, I even had to share a computer. Then I graduated to a computer of my own in a pod of desks in the center of a bustling newsroom. When I started this job, I shared an office and liked my office mate quite a bit. We laughed a lot together. But when I heard the offices were shuffling, and I was to have my very own space, I was elated.

Last Friday we carried our books, highlighters, file folders, and notebooks to our new offices. I put out my family pictures and plugged in my phone and settled in with a smile. It's not like I have any stature in my company. It is the company's philosophy that no one should be in a cubicle, and eventually everyone will have their own office. So I am definitely not special.

But it kind of feels like I am.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I made it.

T was out of town for the second time in three weeks, and I survived again. There were some hectic moments when the boys were yelling at me out the window and the dog refused to poop in the morning as the minutes ticked by and I felt myself getting later for work. It is just difficult when you have to get your pregnant self, your squirmy two- and four-year-old boys, and your belligerent dachshund ready to go. It takes T about 15 minutes to get ready. It would take me 45 minutes to actually look nice, but I have had to settle for a bun composed of dirty hair and a wet ponytail this week. The fact that I have a 45-minute-plus drive to work complicates things as well. I should have the boys dropped off at childcare and be on the road by 7:15. This doesn't happen. Ever. So, I settled for an 8:30 arrival time. Good enough.

But we survived. Every time I am the only parent in the house, I develop new appreciation for single parents. I just can't imagine never having a break. It is nice to once in awhile say, "I am just wiped tonight, can you put them to bed?" If I were a single mom, I think my kids would sometimes be put to bed in their clothes with unbrushed teeth. Some nights are just hard.

But tonight, the boys are bathed and sleeping soundly. The kitchen is mostly clean. And I am ready for bed.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Signs of improvement

My back is not quite as excruciating. It still constantly hurts, and my hips are crooked. (You can tell when you look at your back in the mirror. The divots right above your butt should be even, but my right divot is an inch or so higher)

I am feeling a bit more optimistic about it. I have a massage Tuesday afternoon, and have been trying to realign my lower back myself as often as possible.

Eighteen more weeks. I hope they are as painless as possible.


Thursday, June 10, 2010


I am in such pain.

The pain that I felt in my hips, pelvis, and lower back through my last two pregnancies has reared its ugly head again, only this time it is sooner and worse than before.

My back had been feeling pretty good lately after a few months of physical therapy at the end of last year. But this week, I could feel my hips starting to get crooked again. Before long my tailbone was throbbing, fingers of nerve pain were shooting down my thighs, and just rolling over in bed was agony.

I called the doctor and asked to get in ASAP. My pain relief options are limited of course, being 22 weeks pregnant, but she did give me a stronger Tylenol/Codeine prescription. She referred me to PT and told me to get a therapeutic massage. I had high hopes for PT since it helped me a lot before. But when I called to set up my appointment, they couldn't get me in for three weeks. Yesterday I was crying at my desk thinking, I can barely walk. How am I going to make it four more months?

Today I managed to get a chiropractor appointment, and he said my hips were crooked by a half inch. He adjusted and that helped slightly, but I have no doubt things have already slid out of place. My ligaments are so loose and stretched that by body is just not staying in place.

It truly is miserable. I am in constant pain. Some positions just hurt more than others. Sometimes a muscle spasm will make me gasp. I struggle to shave my legs or pick up something off the floor. T is going out of town for four days next week, and I have no idea how I am going to pick up my kids.

I am trying to tell myself this will be a character builder. At least there is an end to the pain in sight. Some people are in pain their whole lives. At least the pain is for a good reason. Still I read online about how women who suffer from this sacroiliac and symphysis pubis dysfunction often become depressed because they are in such agony and can't do much to ease the pain. I can completely understand that. I feel very defeated.

So, I am in a rough patch. I'm trying to make the best of it, but it is discouraging. Sometimes I wish the bad didn't have to come with the good.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Three white lines

That's what the sonographer saw on the ultrasound and apparently that means it's a girl.

I can't quite believe it. I had myself completely prepared and believing it would be a boy. I didn't want to feel even a flicker of disappointment. Three boys would be wonderful of course, but I had really hoped to have both. I feel so lucky, but I am afraid to be excited.

My mind is still filled with worries about whether the baby is healthy and developing correctly. The sonographer didn't really tell us anything and just ushered us on our way after finishing her routine.

Once you have a miscarriage you know things are not always OK, and you are hesitant to be overjoyed.

Still a tiny corner of my mind is glowing with happiness. It's a girl! What a wonderful little family we will have.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

End of an Era

It was the summer of 1998. I was a college sophomore preparing to return to school. And I was about to get my first new car. My dad and I trolled the car lots weighing the pros and cons of the Chevy Cavalier and the Pontiac Sunfire. I wanted red of course and a sunroof and CD player would be a nice bonus. After the requisite back-and-forth dealing, we finally drove away in my cute little Sunfire. I was most impressed with how the Sunfire logo glowed red in the back. Also as part of the promotion, I had a trunk full of two-liter diet Coke bottles. Life was good.

It was a stick shift and that caused me much stress and frustration in the beginning. I clearly remember my friend in the tiny backseat and my dad in the passenger seat as I stalled out over and over on the big uphill near my house. "I can't do it!" I cried.

My dad calmly reassured me, "Yes you can." And though I revved the engine obnoxiously and stalled a couple more times, I finally crested that beastly hill.

I think of that moment often when I feel like something is insurmountable.

A few weeks later, I drove the Sunfire 500 miles to Columbia, Missouri. That was the first of many journeys. It traveled to Iowa, Florida, Tennessee, New Orleans, El Paso, Oregon, California, Seattle, and all the states in between. I had a lot of fun in that car, but it recent years it had started to fail me.

The brakes started to crap out. Then the air conditioning. The clutch got loose and wobbly. The check engine light and ABS light started to blink on periodically. It got close to overheating a few times.

Still we clung to it, determined to squeeze a few more miles out of the vehicle before returning to the reality of car payments. Then I was stuck in traffic last week, staring at the warning lights on the dashboard, forced to turn on the heat to keep the car from overheating. I thought This is not going to be fun in August when I am seven months pregnant.

So this weekend, I parted with my beloved first car. We traded it in, and now I am driving a 2011 dark gray Toyota Camry. The air conditioning is blissful, and I am savoring the crisp new car smell and shiny perfection of it.

Still I will always have a soft spot for that trusty Sunfire. I hope it finds a good owner in its second life.