Holiday Treats

December 30, 2012

Christmas TreatsI certainly hope you are having a wonderful holiday, full of cups of tea, cookies, chocolate and many other treats.  If you don’t have one of these cups with attached treat saucers, well you are missing out.  Once I get my daughter asleep, I filler ‘er up, head down to my knitting pod and indulge in podcasts, swatching, knitting, and roll around in my yarn.  What can I say, it makes me happy.  Oh, the tea is Yorkshire Gold!

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Christmas Past and Present

December 21, 2012

I am doing really well in the Christmas preparations this year!  Yeah Me!.  I only made two presents, and both are done, except I need to sew the buttons on Althea’s sweater.  She has already tried it on, and seemed to love the bright colours and it fit well, which means it is a win and I’m happy.  I’ve made some cookies, I’ve gotten some custom Christmas cards even though I haven’t sent any out yet, I’ve been stocking up the pantry/freezer, and I’m busy finishing up my and J’s stockings.  There is a lot of sewing to be done on the stockings, but I have four whole days to do it!  I’m pretty confident I can get these done, as they are the same as the stocking I made Althea last year, and I have already figured out how to do it, if I can remember.  My motto is as always aim low and celebrate big when you get things done, it makes for a much happier, lower stress me.

I keep thinking back to last year, and I don’t really know how I was surviving back then.  When I was doing it I didn’t realize how hard it was as I was in survival mode, but looking back, whew-ee!  I was getting out to work at 6:15 am, and coming home around 4 pm.  I would look after my daughter, get her dinner, bath, and get her to sleep between 8 and 9 pm.  I would then have 0-60 minutes to myself before I collapsed into bed.  During that time I was trying to make stockings, do Christmas preparation, clean, cook dinners, make Christmas cards, make a sweater for Althea, and oh yeah, relax.  Ha, ha, ha, ha.  Even looking back a year later I’m laughing hysterically, it was a very stressful time.  To make matters worse Christmas was on a Saturday, so I had no days off before hand to help, but was working full time every day.  I was supposed to produce a big Christmas Eve dinner, special meals on Christmas day, plus everything else, AND work.  We had just gotten our big order at work, plus all the other myriad of things I try and do, and all the extra Christmas things.  Hysterical I tell you.  Needless to say I had to cancel the Christmas eve dinner, didn’t send out Christmas cards, barely got Althea’s stocking ready, made a couple of cookies for Santa but no more, and was sobbing hysterically in the shower a few times from the stress of it all.

In short, this year is so much better.  Althea gets to sleep around 7 pm which leaves me 1-3 hours before I collapse into bed.  I usually work relaxing time into the nighttime routine which is so necessary for me.  People have been asking me my plans for the week off coming up and I answer; sleep and relaxing time with my family.  Nothing big or earth shattering.  I am looking forward to it immensely, especially the sleep part.

Every year on December 6th, as my little remembrance of the 14 female engineering students killed in Montreal I write a little article about women in engineering.  I always mean to do this more often, as I have a few other ideas for articles, but more on that later.

When reading periodicals covering Women In Engineering they always cover the topics of the low percentage representation, efforts to get more women into engineering as a career choice, and the speculation on the great mystery: why are women who have successfully become engineers, survived all that school, graduated, and have been working in the field leaving?  Larger and larger number of successful women engineers are leaving the profession for other life pursuits.

As a working Mum Engineer, I do now feel qualified to shed some light on this, as I completely understand ditching all that school, career, and salary for a smaller career, a lower stress job, one in which I have more time for my family.  Also more time for all the cooking, cleaning, child care, quality time, cat time, me time, husband time, I just have a lot of stuff to keep on top of!

Let me describe a moment that I feel crystalizes the thought process.  On November 11 I had to stay home with my daughter as day care was closed, but my job continued on, with a large million dollar bid due at noon.  I had found out the Friday before that the daycare was closed.  I had realized the night before that some equipment was probably double counted between my estimation and the electrical contractors, which would mean a substantial amount of money I could delete from my price, which would make us more competitive.  The bid was due at noon, I found out around 10 am that I was indeed right, I then had to update four spreadsheets, and get all those final prices into four more documents.  I then had to zip all those documents up into one file, e-mail then, and get someone in the office to print then out and drive then over to the client.  Let’s just call them the evil client as they have ruined my summer with this crap, the fall, and as I told my boss today I expect them to ruin Christmas with all these @#$#$#& clarifications and then give the job to someone else on January 1.  But I digress into ranting.  By the end of the spread sheet updating, the document updating, the zipping and e-mailing my daughter was screaming at my feet, lying on the floor, demanding attention.  I had to ignore her to get everything done within the deadline.  But as I did it, and listened to her scream, I thought to myself, “Self, this is crap, it is not worth it.  If I had to choose between work and my child right now I will choose my child.  I will always choose my child.  The money, the career is worth nothing to me beside what my child is worth”.

Women will choose their children and their family over their high stress, long hour, high demand job.  When we are being yelled at for not making deadlines, or just made to feel bad as women are extremely sensitive to the unsaid castigation, we ask ourselves if it is worth it, and it is not.  This is why women are leaving, and it is why I would leave.  I got that bid off, but I hated myself as I did it, listening to my baby scream.

But here is a flip-side, why are some women staying, and thriving?  What are some employers doing to help out, to not make a women decide between their family and their job?  Here is what has been done for me that is helping immensely.  First of all my boss is very understanding, and he tries really hard even though he is of a generation that had “work all the time, ignore you family, work all the hours” drilled into them.  I can tell that sometimes he gets upset, but I see him work very, very hard to not feel that way, and to understand, and I appreciate that a lot.  The long and the short of it is that I’m working for a wage that is lower than I could make somewhere else, and I have a lot of people asking me to leave, but I’m staying where I am.  The second thing is that I work hourly, so that if I need time I can take it, and I don’t have pressure to make up the rest of the hours in the week.  I just don’t get a full paycheck.  When I do work more hours we put them in a bank and they help on weeks where I don’t get as much time in.  I average 36-38 hours a week.  I get to leave at 3 pm, and pick up my daughter at 4 pm.  We eat at 5 pm, and she is asleep by 7 pm, it is a nice schedule and there is time for us to relax.  I appreciate being allowed to leave early.

My boss also lets me work from home once a week, which saves me driving time, and I get a ton of stuff done.  I get more work work done as no one is interrupting me and I do laundry, cooking, cleaning, completing small tasks here and there.  I’ve done chores while being on conference calls thanks to my ear piece which I love.  I am generally very relaxed at the end of these days as I get so much done.  Done, done, done, see that?  Getting things done makes me happy, and relaxes me.

In return for these priviledges I try not to push things too much, complete tasks on time, and put in extra hours at night when my daughter is asleep when really needed.  With my boss it is important not to abuse things, to I let him know that I appreciate what I get.  He hates that.  When my co-workers get a bit jealous I take them aside, explain why I need these priviledges, and ask them nicely not to ruin things for me.

In short, this is why I’m still in engineering (even though the past few weeks have been stressful, really looking forward to Xmas) and still enjoying it.  I really can’t imagine staying home full time with my daughter, as I need that time outside the home.  Besides, daycare gives my daughter so many things, plus they have potty trained her!  We had no clue how to do that on our own!!

Life is hectic, life is crazy, but I generally am enjoying it.  I wish I had more time to write down my thoughts, but well, see the above article.

Anne's new hat That would be my 4th one of this hat.  The Anja hat!  I seem to keep giving them away, but it gives me an excuse to buy nice skeins of worsted weight yarn and use them up in an evening or two.  I really like the brim on this hat, it keeps the snow off my glasses, and a bit of the glare off on those rare sunny days.  It has been snowing almost non-stop since the middle of October.  The yarn is Manos, and the red is a departure for me from my normal blues and greens but I like it.  The only change I make to the pattern is to do six inches instead of five before decreasing at the crown, my deep winter hats have to cover my ears.