PostHeaderIcon What to Expect Guest Blog on Baby Brain

I was recently invited to be a guest blogger on What to Expect for their “Word of Mom” series.

Excerpt from The Good News about Baby Brain: Baby brain, also known as “momnesia,” or my personal favorite, “mum dumb,” is something that I thought was a myth, or maybe even an excuse. However, after having two kids and gone through it twice, I can attest that it is definitely real, but luckily recoverable. I thought I’d share a few tidbits from my experiences with baby brain. (Thankfully for the reader, this was written post- “mum dumb.”) Read more…

PostHeaderIcon Keyless in Prince George

Stripped of technology, separated from your loved ones, would you have done the same?

For the August long weekend we were heading to Prince George (YXS) for a wedding. We debated for a while about whether to drive or fly.

Driving could have benefits:

  • Definitely much cheaper than flying.
  • We would have our own car upon arrival, with two sets of keyless entry keys (this will prove to be important later on).
  • Saves money from not having to rent a car.
  • Could bring more stuff than flying, which is good when you want to bring entertainment for the kids and pack up your whole house.
  • Could take our time over the course of a few days and make a vacation out of it.
  • Could explore our beautiful province of British Columbia.

Flying could have benefits:

  • Much more time efficient: Less than a 3 hour flight including layover. The drive was going to be 10 hours plus stops, which could potentially equate to over a dozen stops when traveling with a one year old and a two year old.
  • Wouldn’t have to take time off work and time is money, especially for my husband who is a contractor and paid by the hour.
  • Our son LOVES planes and would be on his best behaviour if there was even the slight possibility he would be going on a plane.
  • Some costs savings as hotels would have to be involved with the driving option as we couldn’t really do it all in one day.

In the end we decided to fly. The trip got complicated upon arrival as a result, but we still made the right decision and flying with kids at this age is much better than being trapped in a car with them. Speaking of being trapped in a car…

Upon arriving to YXS, we headed to the car rental counter to pick up our car. Grabbed the keys, bags and car seats and headed to the Hertz lot. Installing car seats is a tedious job and takes a bit of time. We didn’t want our eldest son playing in traffic so he went in the front seat and played while we installed their seats in the back. Somewhere along the way, he must have hit the door lock, but this went unnoticed by us in the back.

After installation, we each buckled a kid in and simultaneously closed the door. We both reached for our respective doors to open them and found them locked. All of our possessions including phones, wallets, keys and kids were locked inside!

My husband worked to teach the older one to try and escape from the buckle and reach the door handle, but the seat was doing a perfect job of restraining him.

I immediately sprinted to the rental counter asking them for a spare key explaining that on this hot summer’s day my kids were trapped in the car. She proceeded to text her manager about what to do. There is a time and place for texting, and this was not one of them. She eventually phoned her manager and found out that it is company policy that they not have any spare keys on hand and there was nothing they could do to help. She offered to call a tow truck for me but stressed that I would be responsible for covering any fees incurred. Afraid that this lady might start texting towing companies in town, I decided to decline her kind offer and take matters into my own hands.

I just wish I had my phone. I just wish I had my keyless entry keys. I just wish we didn’t close the doors at the exact same time. I just wish my son’s arms were half an inch longer. I just wish the rental agency had a different policy. I just wish I had noticed that my son locked the door. I just wish they hadn’t given us both keys attached on a unbreakable wire, making them impossible to separate and have in two different locations (what the heck is the point of that?). I just wish…

About 5-10 minutes had elapsed and both kids were covered in sweat and screaming. I didn’t know how far we were from town or how long a tow truck/locksmith would take, especially that I didn’t fully trust making the call. I also didn’t want to traumatize the kids too much by having them cry and stare at us helplessly for much longer. I just kept thinking of all of the stories of kids being trapped in hot cars this summer and not always making it out alive.

We decided the best option was to break the window and get the kids out. My husband grabbed a big rock and pounded it into the passenger side window. It took way more force and hits than I expected. There was blood, sweat, and tears but for the most part we were all unharmed both emotionally and physically.

Stripped of technology, separated from your loved ones, would you have done the same?

We spent the rest of the day working to get the window repaired. Most people don’t stock a passenger side front window for a 2012 Dodge Avenger but luckily the auto wreckers had one they could rip out.

The people at Dodge were very sympathetic and extremely helpful and had the new window acquired and installed within 3 hours! While it was being repaired I was able to make a few calls to my insurance company and credit card company, who ended up telling me that it would be fully covered.

After flying and freeing the kids and repairing the window, it still took less time than driving. Our holiday got off to a smashing start, but luckily the rest of the trip was uneventful.

PostHeaderIcon Five Ways to Spot an Insecure Site

amandaGuest Blogger:

Amanda Carlson, a blogger as well as a former newborn care nurse contributed this post. To stay connected to her previous career and share the knowledge she gained, she began writing for www.newborncare.com. You can reach her at amanda.newborncare @ gmail.com.

 

It only takes one wrong click to learn the hard way that you have stumbled on an insecure website or link. Before you get yourself into trouble make sure that the site you are on is secure by following these five ways to spot an insecure site:

URL name: When you are visiting websites that contain sensitive information pertaining to you, it is very important that you check the url name on top of the page. Check the spelling and make sure that web address is correct. The best way to do this is to not copy and paste the web address but to type it in. This will prevent the possibility of going to a fake website. Double check every time you log into your bank account!

Links: Be wary of all links that are posted, even the links on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some links are scams and can damage your computer. The best way to determine whether a link is legit or not is to check it by entering into a link verification website. These sites will be able to tell you if it is safe or not. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if it looks too go to be true, be careful.

When in doubt: Always go with your gut on a website or link, if you think something seems off- don’t click it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have doubt, try contacting that website provider by phone before doing anything to confirm the sites legitimacy.

No certifications: Popular and important sites like large retailers and banks typically have notable and recognizable certification marks on their websites. Look for words and symbols like ‘secure area’ on the sites. Another way to check it the site is safe or not is to see what the browser window color changes to once you hit enter. Green means go, and its safe- red, yellow and other colors can indicate a site’s problem.

Personal information: There are certain sites that require you to enter your personal information-whether you are applying for a job or a credit card- these sites are typically well known and safe. But if you stumble onto a site that asks for your social security number or bank account information-be wary. This could be a scam. Always double check!

PostHeaderIcon The Motherhood

I came across this video recently. I was able to relate to many things that this mother was experiencing and thought I’d pass it along. Enjoy!

PostHeaderIcon This policy makes me sick

Hi, this is daycare. Your son has a fever and is sick. Can you please come pick him up immediately?

I came across an interesting article last month on Forbes.com about kid sick day policies for parents. Ironically, at the time that I was reading it, I was busy taking care my two boys, who were both home sick with croupe.

The article discusses how companies would benefit by offering more flexibility to their employees as it relates to time off for caring for their sick kids at home. I strongly support the opinion of this article for companies to change their policies. They said that findings of a study showed that on average parents miss out on five days of pay a year by caring for their kids. I would say that this number is quite low considering that my son was home from daycare with croupe for five days, and that was just one of many things he has/will catch this year.

I am very lucky that I work from home and also work for a flexible, understanding employer but I do feel sorry for those parents that are not so fortunate. My situation is however not totally perfect for dealing with child illness. Whenever my husband takes time off to help out with the sick kids, it is unpaid leave as he is self-employed. In addition, we do not have any family in town to help out (although I’ve come to realize that even if we did, it’s tricky to convince anyone to spend time with a sick child. Not only are they contagious and snotty, but they are also not very fun to be around when they are ill and are generally cranky and very prone to tears.) The result is my husband and I shuffling our meetings and schedules around to manage to take care of two sick kids and still get the critical work tasks completed on time…all the while keeping our fingers crossed that we won’t catch whatever they have.

I think it’s a pretty extreme case to fire someone for staying home to care for their sick child, but it sounds like it actually does happen. I wonder if the individuals doing the firing have kids. Anyone who has been in the situation should be compassionate and remember the stressful feeling of the juggling act when the call from daycare comes in.

Typically (there are obvious exceptions), it seems that kids tend to get sick a ton when starting daycare and/or school as they work to build up their immune systems. If employers could be flexible for that period of time, it would be worth it in the long run to keep a good employee. Maybe let them adjust their hours to work in evenings during that time. Or perhaps, let them work at home, if possible.

A potential outcome of an unfavourable policy, that is mentioned in a joking matter in the article, is that parents start taking their kids to school/daycare regardless whether they are sick or not. Although the spoof on how to drop your sick kid off at daycare is quite humourous  the concept itself is not. If you’ve ever been in a daycare you’ll notice that kids aren’t the cleanest creatures and although they aren’t the best at sharing toys, they are experts at sharing germs. If your kid gets another kid sick, you could potentially be responsible for a parent losing wages or their job for missing too much work to care for their sick kid.

Having a good policy for sick leave ends up benefiting the organization, in my opinion. If a parent uses all of their sick days on taking care of their kids, they are more likely to go to work when they are sick, as they have no sick days left for themselves. This spreads the germs all over the workplace, making others sick and their kids sick and so on and so forth until the office is empty and productivity is at a minimum.

Companies, I urge you to change your policies! A happy employee is a productive, motivated employee. After all, happiness is also contagious :)

PostHeaderIcon B@k 2 sk00l

When I put out some feelers recently for guest posts, I received a response from someone through LinkedIn. It was a timely piece about going kids going back to school. Although well written, it was in no way relevant to the theme of this blog, so I sadly had to reject the article.

Not all was lost however, as it inspired conversation between my husband and I about what a great topic that is. We started brainstorming about technology in daycare and schools.

We are very fortunate to have our son in an incredible daycare. The teachers are all super friendly and amazing with the kids. How they take care of 14 infants and toddlers and still remain smiling at the end of the day is beyond me. I’m pulling my hair out at the end of most days and I only have two.

The daycare also does a fabulous job of planning activities that are focused on teaching the kids, who have the attention span of a fruit fly at their age. They get outside to the park or a walk every day and do art, yoga and of course play with toys.

An added bonus is how tech savvy the daycare workers are. At any point throughout the day we can text them and get an immediate reply. We use text as our primary form of contact as they find it much easier than answering the phone, as there is such a narrow window of about 10 seconds when you have to answer the phone but with a text you can respond over the course of several minutes and still maintain the flow of your conversation. They have texted us on many occasions to let us know that we had forgotten to send something along with Zach to daycare or that Zach has come down with a fever and we need to pick him up. Other days we’ll request that they text us once he’s up from his nap so we can pick him up early.

Some days the morning drop off is tough and tear-filled. As I’m walking to the car and realize I’ve forgotten to tell them something, it’s handy to text them instead of going back in and getting Zach all upset again. Having that direct line of communication is a wonderful added bonus and I’m very appreciative of it.

In addition to texting, the daycare also sends out relevant information via email. Most of the time it’s to tell parents that there’s some sort of outbreak. They provide a status update and usual provide information on prevention and treatment. By keeping parents informed so quickly, I really think it helps prevent the latest bug from spreading like wildfire.

The daycare also sends out monthly e-newsletters to keep all the parents informed on their practices and upcoming events. It also provides a link to their Facebook page so parents can see pictures of their little ones.

Pictures are nice, but I think it would be really cool to see videos of my son. Taking that thought one step further it would be interesting to be able to tune into a live webcast of the daycare at any point in the day. That way you could see how your child is interacting with the other children. You could also see exactly what they were learning and how the messages were being delivered by the teachers. Sometimes I think this would be helpful for consistency. I could then pick up on the teaching where they left off, or could discipline my child in a similar manner.

However, there are flaws in my plan and privacy issues, but maybe one day we’ll see cameras in classrooms so parents can be better informed of what their kids are up to all day.

It’s amazing to me how much the classroom has changed from when I went to school with widespread use of laptops and smartphones. I turned the TV on the other day to a Simpson’s episode where the entire class was texting and the teacher was getting annoyed that no one was paying attention. I could see how frustrating that would be as a teacher. I think I’ll hold off on sending Zach to daycare with a smartphone and leave the texting up to myself and the teachers.

Lunchkit? Check. Raincoat? Check. Smartphone?

PostHeaderIcon How Technology Can Increase the Efficiency of the Working Mom

Guest Blogger: Sara Haslem works with Dell. When she’s not working she enjoys spending time with her two kids and being outdoors. For more information on laptops, Sara recommends clicking here.

Let’s face it: the job of a mother is more difficult than almost any other job available. From the moment moms become pregnant, they’re thrown into a commitment that requires a great majority of their time and attention. Kids aren’t the only job mothers have to deal with on a daily basis, however—many of them also work on the side, be it part-time or full-time. While the rewards are very worth it, both of these jobs – especially when business meetings and play dates occur at the same time – tend to be difficult and hectic.

Thankfully, however, there are numerous technologies that can help working mothers make their lives at least a little bit easier. Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, reading emails, or juggling time, here are just a few of the devices that I rely on to help my day go more smoothly:

Cleaning Technology

Long gone are the days of having to pull out a large and cumbersome vacuum cleaner, or lug around a bucket of warm water and cleaning chemicals when you need to mop. A recent trend in home cleaning products is to make them as easy-to-use as possible, which has given us a wide array of tools that are not only lower in cost, but are also easier to handle and take less time to do the job.
Many vacuum cleaners nowadays, for example, are incredibly lightweight and compact, making them easy to use, move around, and of course, stow away. Traditional mopping is also gradually becoming a thing of the past: numerous manufacturers now make special mops where instead of regularly soaking them in warm water, a disposable, wet cleaning cloth is set in place. This is quite a change from the past—it used to be that mopping required lugging heavy buckets of water around your home and hoping that the dirty, already-used wash water was somehow getting your floor clean. Now, you can use a fresh cleaning cloth every time you clean, making the task much easier.
Many of these mops are designed to work on special surfaces like hardwood floors or tiles. Others are also able to dust both floors and furniture, making them excellent replacements for what was once a closet full of large, inefficient, and cumbersome cleaning tools.
There are even “robotic” devices like the Roomba (an automatic vacuum cleaner) and the Scooba (an automatic floor washer) that promise to take all the work out of housework. You just set these little devices to “go” and watch them do their thing. You may pay a premium for these “technologies,” but their ease-of-use makes them well worth it.

Cooking Technology

While quality will – and should – always take time, modern technology has allowed the cooking process to become slightly more convenient. Now more than ever, specialized and versatile appliances have allowed us to perform certain tasks using only one device. For example, there are numerous appliances on the market that specialize in cutting: by simply loading whatever you want cut up, these devices are able to dice, cut, slice, and chop just about any food. Other devices include combination blenders and juicers, as well as units that can cook an entire meal—sometimes doing a better job than your own oven or stove!
Appliances, however, aren’t the only things revolutionizing cooking: many food companies carry products which make cooking certain foods and recipes an extremely easy process. One of the most notable of these products is pre-seasoned chicken that comes in a bag: you simply throw the bag in the oven according to the directions, and after a certain amount of time, you have a perfectly-cooked – and delicious – whole chicken.
You can use these technologies to save time while still preparing a delicious and healthy meal for your family. On those nights when you have to work late, you can whip something up with your combination blender rather than relying on pre-packaged, frozen food.

Laptops

Where would moms be without their laptops? I, for one, wouldn’t know how to do half the things that I need to—I rely on it for looking up recipes, finding solutions for tough stains, or knowing what to give a sick child. My laptop brings all of this information directly to my kitchen (or wherever I need it), and I use it all the time in both my job as a mom and my job in the office. Whether you use it for finding appliance reviews or checking out the prices at the local coffee shop, no mom should be without a laptop.

Time to put down my laptop and cook up some technology in the kitchen.

PostHeaderIcon A ‘little’ email help please

Guest Blogger: Oliver Rae Sill aka eBaby#2. Born June 23, 2012 to Jeff and Lindsay Sill (eMommy). Likes: sleeping, napping, milk and car rides. Dislikes: dirty diapers and cinnamon.

Since I’m new to this world, I’m looking for a bit of advice about my email address. Shortly after I was born, with the help of my parents, I tried to get myself an email address so I could stay in touch with my family and friends. However, when I went to register, my preferred address was already taken. I really wanted Oliver.Sill@gmail.com, but appears that my name is not unique and there is someone out there with that address already. Other options that I’ve brainstormed are to use my full name (oliverraesill@gmail.com) or just my middle initial (oliverrsill@gmail.com) but I’m not really a fan of either of those. I plan to use my email address a lot and for a long time, so I want something easy. I’d also prefer not to use numbers if I can help it. If anyone has suggestions on tips on picking a good email address, I’d appreciate them and please leave a comment for my mom to pass along to me.

It makes me wonder if the other Oliver Sill out there is even using his email account and maybe he wants to give it to me. I bet there are millions of inactive accounts out there. I know for a fact that my mommy has at least two accounts that she has quit using and they are just spam collectors. For fun, I asked her to log into one of her dormant accounts today. Upon doing so, she had 5,314 unread (spam) messages. I’m impressed that she even remembered the password to the account.

It got me thinking that it would also be neat if you could buy or sell email accounts, but I bet Google and others have rules against that. I did a quick search on eBay (got there by accident when typing eBaby…) to see if there were any accounts for sale. I only came across one for schenectady@gmail.com. Apparently that’s a county in New York. I chose not to buy it since I don’t have that much money.

I’d like to thank eMommy for helping me write this post. Obviously I’m too young to type, so we used a few technologies along the way. First off, my mom held her iPhone up to my mouth and used the speech to text technology to record what I was saying. It looked something like this: “Wahhhh ahhh baaa waa waa”.

The next step before cutting and pasting that text into a blog, was to have it translated. We used a fancy online translation tool to turn the text from “baby language” into English.

Technology is so wonderful and helps me contribute to my mom’s blog since she’s so busy feeding me and changing my diapers all the time so doesn’t get to blog as much as she’d like to. I’m trying to convince my dad to do a guest blog in this series to also give my mom a bit of a break. He’s really busy at work though, but maybe he can use some of the same tools I used today (speech to text and translating from “computer nerd” to English) to help him out. I bet I can convince him of anything by giving him my cute look.

Thanks for visiting my mom’s blog. I look forward to any feedback you have about my email address or just tips about anything in general since I’m always up for learning things in this big new world I’ve come into recently.

‘Whhhhaaaaaa’ (translation: Bye for now, I’m hungry. Oliver out).

PostHeaderIcon The Pregnant CEO

Guest Blogger: Jill Kowalchuk, Interim Executive Director, Compute / Calcul Canada

Lindsay has been hinting that I should write a guest blog for a while now and today was the day that I just couldn’t keep quiet anymore. Admittedly, there are a number of interesting topics that could be used for my first blog: the perspective from the other side being Lindsay’s supervisor while she went on her first maternity leave, comments on a number of great articles that have been posted about women working or women in IT lately, or my perspective on becoming a working mother as I am expecting my first child in December. However, I will save some of those other topics for future blog posts. Today I will focus on what I call the news of the week.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised on Monday to wake up to a LinkedIn link to an article about Marissa Mayer being appointed as Yahoo’s CEO. I am a strong supporter of women in Executive positions (particularly in IT) and there are just not enough women in these roles. I didn’t know Mayer before the announcement so after reading the first article about her position I did some searching to learn more. The first Google search of her name turned up a number of articles on her new position and some of her past achievements which were rather impressive (I also tried the search on Yahoo but didn’t find the results intuitive). I should note, even today the top 7 Google hits are not about the “other” interesting news of her appointment, they are about her position.

Although I was first drawn to the article because it was a women in a C-level position in IT, I did spend the next 20 minutes reading more and becoming more excited not about her position, but about the fact that she would be going on maternity leave 3 months after taking on her new role. If you read some of the articles you get the perspectives you would expect: this is great for women, this is terrible for women, don’t talk about her pregnancy talk about her achievements, etc.

My post doesn’t bring up any new ideas on the topic, but rather my opinion and my excitement for how timely this news is in my personal life. First, my 2 cents: I am thrilled that the news of Mayer’s pregnancy has not completely overshadowed her getting the CEO position. Clearly she was not hired because she was pregnant, but the fact that the Board did not discriminate against her is, in my humble opinion, exciting. I am not sure about US Laws, but I imagine it is similar to Canada where you cannot discriminate against a women because she is pregnant. Of course, everyone I speak with indicates this must be on a Board’s mind when making a decision and there is no way to guarantee it isn’t considered by all decision-making individuals.

We have all read the articles about women and how their careers are put on hold when they have children; they make less, don’t climb the ladder as fast, etc. However, we don’t hear much about the women who are trying to make unique situations work. Let’s face it, Mayer’s decision is unique. She is wealthy, she is the boss, and she can afford to put together a work/home situation, which will work how she needs it to. However, I would argue that women executives need more role models like Mayer so that Boards can honestly make decisions without thinking twice about a women’s pregnancy status and so that women applying for jobs can recognize that they do have choices.

As mentioned, in addition to having my own strong opinions about the news, this story hits close to home and could have huge significance in my life in the next 4-6 months. I am considering applying for the CEO position of Compute / Calcul Canada and I am 4.5 months pregnant. The timing from a career perspective is a bit of a challenge. When you do the math, the new CEO would start right when I am about to go into labour (give or take a month depending), but I am not letting that stop me. I have been the Interim Executive Director for Compute / Calcul Canada since April 1. Moving into a new role is always an interesting experience. In my case, in addition to the challenge of this new role, I also found out I was pregnant 3 days before my official start date. I had taken the Interim role with the expectation that I would apply for the full-time job, so the exciting news of the new baby added an interesting twist to my career planning.

The job has been a wonderful new challenge, but equally challenging was managing the new pregnancy, the stress of the job, and the communications around it all. I’ll try to write a future blog post about more of the first four months on the job, but for now I am happy to say I have a new role model: Mayer. Also, I must admit I hope that the Compute / Calcul Canada CEO Selection Committee / Board has a new “Board role model” through Yahoo. If I was to apply and get the Compute / Calcul Canada CEO job, my plan is similar to Mayer’s. I will take 3 months maternity leave, but I am willing to do some work in that period. I will then go back part-time, but working as much as I can for another 3 months (supported by my husband who will be taking 9 months of parental leave). I am also expecting/hoping to work from home for at least the start of my position (Compute / Calcul Canada is a distributed organization so this should be possible to facilitate). Three months is much longer than Mayer’s 3 weeks, but if you consider how horrible maternity leave in the US is (3 months!) compared to Canada as a percentage we are taking about the same.

It will be an interesting few months and I hope to have time to continue to write some guest blog posts and keep you updated.

PostHeaderIcon Guest Blogger Series

With the arrival of eBaby on June 23, I am officially on Maternity Leave until December. I’ll be working part-time for 3 months and then going full-time after 6 months. My husband will watch Oliver from 6-9 months of age, after which Oliver will be joining his brother Zach at daycare.

Since I have my hands full with 2 boys under the age of 2, writing on my blog has not been a priority lately. As such, I’ve decided to start an eMommy guest blog series, starting today and running for the next couple of months. This will keep Google happy.