Legos for the Ladies

So Lego has finally put out a Lego set for girls to encourage interest in STEM.

Well, mainly the S part I think, but it’s a start.

What I like most is how normal the lady Lego people look. Normal clothes, normal hair, with just a touch of pink that seems to say ‘hey, I can be a brilliant scientist and still enjoy looking fashionable.’

When Panda is old enough to not swallow the parts, I am going to buy the set for her.

Some critics say ‘why do we need to make such a blatant point that we are marketing to girls? Does it even matter? Kids play with what they like.’

And as a woman in the engineering field my response to that is yes, it does matter. We do need blatant marketing targeted to girls. It matters because we need to move away from a distinction between ‘boy toys’ and ‘girl toys’.

My favorite toys as a child were barbies and Legos.

And I was also reminded often by adults and peers the distinction between the two. Luckily I had parents that really encouraged me to develop my mechanical skills and were thrilled that I preferred Legos to other ‘girl toys’.

Would girl targeted Legos have benefitted me at that tender age?

You bet your Lego brick it would.

I didn’t receive any nudges from the world outside my home telling me it was ok to pursue technical skills. Math seemed to be acceptable for girls, though, so I excelled at that. But when I went to college, there was an unspoken gender gap in the engineering department.

It was cold and icy and unsupportive. I HATED being there. If I wasn’t snubbed or ignored, I was being hit on and condescended to by both faculty and my peers. It seemed to be the same for my few female classmates as well.

I had terrible grades.

Now I am not going to blame my college performance completely on sexism. I partied and played more than I studied. I earned those grades. But there was no encouragement to excel. Telling anyone my major made them laugh.

Laugh!

Because there was a stigma associated with women pursuing technical professions. This was only 15 years ago. The internet and tech boom should have overshadowed the gender divide in technology, but not the good ole boys of solid engineering curriculum, no siree bob.

I hated it, was given very little support or encouragement, and left school with an engineering degree by the skin of my teeth.

Then I moved to Austin to do ANYTHING but be an engineer. And I did that for about 5 years, until I thought, hey, I LIKE tech. I want to build things and I am bored to tears without any challenges in these other industries.

So I lucked up and found a few design jobs until I ended up with the MEP firm I am with now. I am one of the oldest associates here that isn’t a Professional Engineer yet and I probably have a ways to go to catch up with everyone.

Especially now that I intend to pursue my writing career and put this career on the back burner until my kids are older.

But what do I write? Science Fiction. What do I read? Science and Tech articles. My next project will likely be writing an Android App.

I am a STEM girl. I always wanted to be  STEM girl. I have struggled and managed to find a place, but I wish the struggle hadn’t been so hard.

I don’t want it to be hard for my daughter. She may not excel in or enjoy STEM, but I am going to make sure she has every opportunity to. I will encourage her and provide her with all the resources I can.

And it’s super cool that I can now include Lego lady scientists to those resources.

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Being Bitchy is Not Feminism

It seems somewhere along our struggle to gain equal rights and pay, we have given ourselves permission to be jerks, ladies.

Why are we taking internet quizzes to determine how bitchy we are, then proudly boasting our high scores on social network sites for friends, family and God knows who else to see?

Why has bitchiness become a badge of honor?

I often struggle with making my voice heard at work among my male colleagues, and it has even been said that women have to be bitches to excel in this industry.

Tina Fey even said famously on SNL ‘bitches get things done’ in response to a negative comment about Hilary Clinton.

It can be deduced that we as women have taken a negativity, or insult, and spun it to instead characterize our strength and resistance to common female stereotypes.

And I get it. And I like the idea.

But somehow we have forgotten that we were trying to redefine the word and have instead created a new stereotype.

That ‘bitches’ are the only women to get stuff done.

And we are proud to be hateful jerks.

That is not feminism.

So if you score high on a ridiculous internet quiz because you refuse to take crap from elderly people that cut line or children that are loud, please don’t brag about it.

Because that is one step back for us, ladies, not forward.

Feminism is helping the older person with the groceries and distracting a child with a funny face.

It is firmly and calmly standing your ground to make others respect your rights, not bullying or demanding that they be recognized.

I don’t want my coworkers to say I am ‘a bitch that gets stuff done’.I want them to say I am a talented hard worker that earns respect through my productivity and integrity. And pretty cool to hang out with, too.

Because You don’t have to be a bitch to be respected.

So don’t call me a bitch. And don’t call yourself one either. We are both better than that. We are strong, we are talented, we are wise. We deserve respect because we command it; not from our words, but from our productivity and from our good deeds. Which should be the same thing.

10 things no one tells you about breastfeeding

1. It’s hard – anyone that says differently is a liar, a man, or both. Those first few weeks are like putting the ultimate 3D jigsaw puzzle together.

2. It’s painful – even if your baby doesn’t squeeze your nipples and somehow latches on perfectly, they will still crack, bleed and peel – the first week. But you know what fixes that?

3. Breast milk will heal cracked nipples – I did everything until a nurse said ‘just express a little milk and rub it on them’. They were better the next day!

3. Your nipples go numb – which is awesome, because then you can start to truly enjoy breastfeeding and focus on making baby comfortable. And you, which is important if you are going to stick it out for the long haul.

4. THEN it gets easy – it’s like a right of passage; if you can stick it out those first few weeks, it eventually gets easier and pain-free. That’s good, because then…..

5. You will worry about making enough milk, always – those first few weeks and months you make a ton of it (freeze it! You will need it!) but then your amazing body will regulate and make exactly what baby needs. Which will freak you out. Don’t worry. If your pediatrician says baby is a healthy weight, you are doing just fine. Put down all those herbs and just stick with water and a healthy diet.

6. You may gain weight – seriously. Nursing burns 200-300 calories, sometimes more, but you will also be starving! And if you are like me and slow to heel, your body will hold on to all that fat regardless of how many calories you cut. Panda is 5 months and the scale is just now moving.

7. Get the good pump – you will use it, a lot. It will help with milk production the first few weeks and allow you to untether from baby occasionally in later months. Get the hands free bra and the double pump, and you can get the job done in under 10 minutes while sending emails/pinning to Pinterest. Call your insurance carrier and they will hook you up with a free pump. Mine was $300 retail. How much did I pay? $0. Thanks ACA.

8. It can get messy – my baby gets too much in her mouth and dribbles it out of the side of her mouth onto by bra, shirt, and everything. I have found that putting the burping cloth under her in the crevice between the two of us helps.

9. Pumping at work is super hard, but doable – I had to pump in the bathroom with no sink or outlet the first few months back. It was miserable, but I kept telling myself it would get better, and it did. I got a battery pack and washed all the parts in the community kitchen. I got into a groove with my nursing schedule and it just became part of my day.

10. Baby will love it, and you will too BUT it really is ok if you don’t – if you can make it work and push through the hard stuff, it’s a wonderful bonding experience for you and baby on top of all the health benefits. But it’s also not the end of the world if you can’t. Baby will get plenty of nutrition from formula and you will still bond. I’m breastfeeding Panda, but couldn’t with Squishy Bug. Squishy Bug and I are just as close, though.

It’s not really about the breast milk or organic baby food or baby wearing, it’s about nurturing. So Relax Mamma Bear, and just love your baby. The rest will work itself out.

Making The Decision to Quit

Panda will be 5 months next week and I have almost accomplished my goal of finding part time employment that can be performed at home.

Finding real remote work, part time or full, is extremely difficult. First you have to sift through scams, and then when you find something legitimate you have to compete with every job applicant in the world.

Really.

Because remote work can be done from anywhere. So that means everyone on our planet is applying to that job.

But through a little networking and a stroke of good luck, I have secured two part time gigs that will cover half the salary I need to cover my part of our household expenses.

Now the tricky part – quitting my day job.

But the really tricky part is not quitting, but convincing my boss to let me reduce my hours to contract hours AND work from home – which no one has ever done.

I have threatened my husband multiple times about doing this. It’s my way of working up the courage to walk into my boss’s office and ask for what I want.

See, I wasn’t really raised to ask for what you want. That’s not what Southern Girls do.

We simper and smile and occasionally ‘suggest’.

Then a big strong man with a gun and lots of money comes along to save the day. Easy as apple pie.

But that’s not really my thing, the simpering and passive aggressive behavior, so I have to slap some water on my face and get in there.

But it’s scary, and I don’t want to.

Because it’s not just about personal rejection. It’s about not being able to accept it.

Oh, I’ve learned to deal with rejection and I can take constructive criticism like a champ, but this whole thing isn’t about me; it’s about Squishy Bug and Panda. So my boss has to say yes.

I don’t really know how it’s going to go, but I am going to have to make a move very soon, because my other small jobs are going to require more of me. I’m sort of doing it all right now, but that won’t be sustainable for very long.

I guess I am going to have to march in there with my chin up and a smile on my face and just be honest.

And tactical.

Because whether I like it or not, the world only sees value in you for what you can produce.

So I am going to have to prove my worth and offer added value to the proposition of working contract instead of salary.

We will see how it goes.

 

I’m Sorry Blog

Neglect thy name is Mommyverse. I have really let the grass grow over here for the past two weeks. And I am going to have to let it grow a little longer until Monday. In short this week has been mountains of work, parents and babies, finger tumors and blood work. I’ll elaborate later. Thanks for checking in, though. Happy 4th everybody!

Vacation

Well we finally made it back from our little ‘vacation’.

We have untied the frayed rope from the back bumper and are back safe and sound. Thank all that is holy.

The thing that I am learning about vacations when you have children is that they aren’t really vacations. In fact, they are often worse than being at work. They should be called Mandatory Family Retreats and we should be paid for them if everyone makes it home alive.

It was just a trip to my parents’ place. It’s not like I tried to take my kids diving with sharks.

I do think that would have been more pleasant, though.

The trip started off ok. Squishy Bug and Panda Bear slept the first 4 or 5 hours of the drive, at which point we met my parents half way. 

Then it got really hot. And then Squishy Bug woke up. And Panda woke up. Chaos ensued. There was screaming, crying and gnashing of teeth. 

But we finished the drive without any major disaster, just sweaty and a little tired.

Hooray! Now SB could run and play outside! But wait, what’s that? Rain. Awesome. 

So now my kid is cooped up for almost three days while it storms on 10 perfectly green acres of land with every animal a kid could wish to play with. All was not lost, though, because the sun peaked out most mornings and he was able to play enough to get a sunburn. 

I was settling into some couch time while my parents watched the kids when I realized I had a sore throat.  I also have a strange injury that won’t heal. So I am feeling terrible. That’s awesome. 

Then my Dad becomes curious about why we were so hot on the last leg of that drive and he checks out my AC.

Diagnosis? It’s broken. 

So we take it to shop. Where it spends 4 days baffling every mechanic there. 

Meanwhile, I am trying to get online to work but guess what? It’s down and ATT hates my parents so they don’t do a darn thing about it the entire week. 

So I am sick and trapped in the stormy woods with no internet, my parents, an infant and a grumpy toddler. 

Finally my car was fixed so we could go home. Of course the sun came out then. 

But determined not to be defeated by Acts of God, I rush SB outside to get in a last few hours of play. 

My father warns, though, to watch out for fire ants. Pfft! I was raised in the country, I know how to stay out of fire ant beds. 

Then Squishy Bug interrupts my reverie to scream in pain. 

He is covered in fire ants. I wash him off in the baby pool and that really pisses them off. Now my child is covered in tiny red welps all over his body. 

Mother of the Year, people, Mother of the Freaking Year.

My mother saves the day with a trip to the pharmacy, and after a bath, Benadryl, and plenty of Cortizone, he is comfortable again. 

Then we pack it all up and drive the 7,000 miles back home to ATX. 

So glad to be home. Sleep? oh no, those kids slept all the way back, so they are all charged up and will be awake until Monday. So I guess I will have to wait until next week to get any sleep as well. 

yay vacation. 

 

 

 

Road Trip

I am finally take some vacation. You may be thinking exotic beach, or romantic European getaway. Of course you are wrong. I am taking 3 precious days of my vacation to drive my kiddos to see my parents a few states over. 

yay. 

I am actually excited, though. I haven’t been anywhere this entire year, not even another city. So I am looking forward to the road trip.

I am not looking forward to trying to use the bathroom at a gas station with a toddler and an infant. 

Last night was spent working the logistics of this bathroom break that I will need to take multiple times. I came to the conclusion that I will be totally dependent on handicapped stalls without clearance for Squishy Bug to slide under. 

I am also considering buying a toddler leash.

My husband thinks they are inhumane. I’m not sure that he understands were they are attached to the todder, though.

In any case, it is going to interesting. 

Breastfeeding will also be interesting. I haven’t quite worked that one out yet, but I am also sure someone will be offended by my mammaries this time tomorrow. 

That’s it for today, gotta go pack!