Archive | April, 2013

Dream Job(s)

27 Apr

The last few months we’ve been talking a lot about what comes next. I’ve been in school for 5 years and we’ve been living in the US for 6. Hubs is getting citizenship soon (Interview on Wednesday!) and babe is getting older. . . we’re ready for a change.

A couple of opportunities have come up that have gotten me thinking about my dream job. I love to travel (nothing makes my soul soar like getting on an airplane…) and this is the longest stretch of my adult life that I haven’t been abroad. I’m ready to go somewhere new! I have a secret dream to join the foreign service, and there’s one way to bring my education and my secret dream together: State Department English Language Officer. They only take applications sometimes, and in February one of those calls for applications opened and I spent a weekend preparing my application. If there’s anything I learned from my time in the Peace Corps is that successful government workers need to have a high tolerance for bureaucracy, and just applying for the job took a lot of patience. I had to fill in two full applications with work history, education, etc: one for the federal jobs database and a second one for the state department. There were also several essays I had to prepare for the job posting which took a lot of reflection about my goals and strategizing how my experiences fit the job profile. I’m not sure how many people they hire for this specialist position (i.e. I don’t know if they only hire super experienced English language teachers or if they want to bring people in with some experience and give them training to then climb the ranks). If they’re looking to cultivate someone, I think I’d be an ideal candidate: I’ve already lived in 3 countries, including a year in Great Britain and over 2 years in Ukraine. I have a Masters, I’m a PhD candidate and with luck I’ll complete my dissertation in the next year or so. I’m young and adventurous yet tolerant of bureaucracy and excited to work in diplomacy. They closed the job posting last week and I passed the first qualifications test, so I have one set of fingers crossed that I’ll get an interview for that job.

Out of the blue a few days ago a Peace Corps friend emailed me about a different job. She’s a professor of Russian at a small liberal arts college and she is working with the Dean and President of the university to open an English Language Institute at the college. The are imagining that they would bring a cohort of 50 students to the college to study English for a year and then enter that college as freshmen (or potentially go elsewhere). She asked if I was interested in such a job. . . and if so, what kind of feedback I could give for the position. Just emailing with her got me excited about what such an English Language institute could be – what I’ve learned working at a big university with tons of international students and all the growing pains we’ve had. If I were to build a program from scratch, what would it look like? If I were to travel across the US to take a job on the East Coast, what would it take? What kind of status should the job hold. It was fun to think that through–and I emailed her a document with my thoughts and she forwarded it to the dean and he liked what I had to say. The position is still being formed and they’d need to go through a full job search, but I could definitely be a candidate for the job. So my other set of fingers is crossed that I get an offer for a great job as director of that program.

These two jobs are so different and yet they both utilize the experience I have been building. I see our family happy in both situations: small town in Pennsylvania, building a program, making friends, and raising a happy boy vs. living in various countries for 2-3 years each, travelling widely, doing language outreach, and raising a happy multicultural boy.  There are scary things about both jobs, but exciting things as well… and both jobs have calendars that could begin this fall. . .so I may not even be living here in a year. Scary and exciting to think about! It is strange to contrast those thoughts with the gardening we’ve been doing. . but that’s another thing Peace Corps taught me: a year or two is both a blink of the eye and long and important. Even if you’re only spending a year somewhere, it is important to put down roots (sometimes literally) in order to enjoy daily life. It is important to make the place you are living “home” however temporary that may be.



25 Apr

N’s new skill is giving kisses!!

He loves to play games: I’ll pucker my lips and make a kissy noise and he’ll either run to me and give me a big open-mouthed kiss on the lips, or he’ll squeal and run away. It is sooooooo funny!
013He is such a delight!

In other news, he’s sleeping well (generally – we have had a rash of not so great nights, but I think he either had a cold or has allergies so that’s affecting his sleep). His schedule is very consistent: Wake up during the 9 o’clock hour. Go down for a nap sometime between 1:30 and 2:30 and sleep for 2-21/2 hours. Bed between 8:30 and 9:30. He now asks to go outside by pointing to his shoes, coat and/or hat. He’s a good eater, loves his independence, and is shy and serious when in new places, with new people, and when doing new things. When he’s with us, he’s a funny, funny boy.

N is 19 months and 2 weeks!

In my yard – Part II

25 Apr

This week we have had some beautiful weather (high 60s-low 70s, blue skies) so we have been spending a lot of time outside. After mowing the lawn and generally creating some order in the yard over the weekend, we did another round of yard work today. We decided to try and re-seed some empty spots in our (uneven) lawn and maybe even it out a bit. I also bought some pretty flowers when we went to Lowes the other day, so I needed to get them into the ground.

054 063They grey-blue spots are combo mulch/fertilizer/lawn seed meant for shade and the pacific NW. I hope they’ll take and we can have a nice green lawn! 057 After hubs dug out these beds, I planted a peony that was left by the prevous tenants, as well as some daisies and a dahlia. Underneath the soil I also added some freesia bulbs! I LOVE bulbs because they grow into beautiful little surprises!058 While digging out another bed to put some gladiolas next to the fence, N played in the dirt and checked out the daffodils. They’re down to just leaves so he had a grand ‘ol time beating them down 🙂

It was WONDERFUL to spend a day in the sun with my family! We’re trying not to spend too much money to improve the yard since we’re just renting, but we are living here for a while so we may as well enjoy it! We cleared off the porch area as well and cleaned off our barbecue and both last night and tonight we grilled our dinner–yummmmm!

In my yard

21 Apr

I really love living in a house. The place we’re renting is old and pretty rundown/maintained without care, but it is a good fit for us in size and location and has a huge (uneven) yard. We moved in this past autumn as fruits fell and leaves changed color, so it has been fun to watch nature ‘wake up’ and see our yard come to life.

I planted some daffodils, crocuses, and tulips last fall, so it had been fun to see how they turn out–as well as some new surprises from the previous renters like snowdrops and some pretty blue flowers.

We go out every day, sometimes twice or more. N likes to practice walking and exploring outside and I like to see what new treasures have emerged. 013 I love these daffodils I planted!!026pear tree in bloom 003 can’t wait to see what these tulips will look like!!!  Spring is such a beautiful season, especially around here!050048019 It was cold and wet this morning, so baby was all bundled up. By afternoon, though, it was almost a nice day.028 027047 A little bit of lawn mowing–only had to do the whole yard 2 times, the grass was so long!


Back to where we started

16 Apr

Saturday evening, N decided to walk again. After getting his cast off, N would stand on his leg and walk a bit, but really preferred to crawl. There even seemed to be days when he didn’t want to use it at all. But after waking up from his nap on Saturday evening he was going, going, going! It was like we were back to where we were at the end of February before he broke his leg.

He was spinning in circles, practicing walking back and forth, and now all he wants to do is walk everywhere!036031025 His new favorite activity is walking along our sidewalk, back and forth. Morning and evening. Today he practiced in the morning while his grandparents in Ukraine watched on skype. He practiced again after his nap, playing with rocks and getting a little dirty. 047 057 The pear trees are blooming and it is warming up. THIS is why we’re renting a house. Spring is here!061 As N grows, we’re slowly letting him have the run of the house. Tonight it was fun to do my thing – a bit of academic work, catching up on the news, etc. while my boy played nearby. He loves to run between the bedrooms (via the bathroom which connects them). Having the freedom to go here and there is exciting! 066A little pic with my boy 🙂

Tired of doctors . . .

10 Apr

007Today N went in for his 18-month doctor’s appointment, one week after he got his cast removed. To say he is tired of doctors is a bit of an understatement: just getting weighed and measured was a torturous ordeal. Poor baby! Luckily our family doctor is amazing and N. was in a good mood by the time we left and I don’t think he’s scarred for life 🙂

Since I haven’t written about getting N’s cast removed last week, this is a good time.  He had the cast on his leg for 4 weeks and two days.  The first week it was on was pretty traumatic – babe was in enough pain that we were giving him tylenol or ibuprofen regularly for 3-4 days. We only gave him the prescription painkillers once at night–it was a pretty bad one, maybe from pain, maybe from frustration  I can’t say if it helped, so we stuck with just tylenol.  You could see a progression from babe in pain to mad baby–after the first few days of being in a cast he was just mad about the loss of mobility  He’d try to stand and play on it, but then he’d collapse in a fit of pain/frustration. It was sad. N spent a lot of time in his baby carseat in front of the TV – just to keep him off the leg and entertained!

Weeks 2 & 3 were back to the good ol’ routine with solid sleep at night and naps. Babe was crawling everywhere with the cast on and we took him out like we would normally, cruisin’ in the stroller.

By week 4, N was beginning to walk with the cast. We’d spend evenings playing in his room, and the night before the cast was removed he entertained himself for hours by spinning in circles in his room. It was hilarious!

Last Wednesday we went to the local children’s hospital and met with the same doctor who put the cast on. The appointment started with taking the cast off. N was a bit cranky when we went in because he wanted to crawl around and play, but I wanted to keep him near the waiting area so I could hear when we were called. They brought us into a large room with several beds where they apply and remove casts. The nice man who put on the cast came over with a saw to take it off. N sat in my lap and the medical technician gave him headphones to mute the sound of the saw. He turned the saw on (which sounded like a loud vacuum) and the screaming commenced.

It was horrible–N was SO OFFENDED that that loud thing would be brought near his leg. He was mad that this guy was touching his cast. And once it was off, he was offended that the guy took it away. He screamed and cried and wouldn’t calm down. I held him and kissed him and rocked him. A nurse brought a cute beanie baby lion over and tried to cheer him up. Nothing. Finally, they brought us to a private room to wait for the x-ray tech to come and get us for x-rays.013

We waited for 40 minutes and in that time I got N calmed down by drawing pictures on the whiteboard on the wall (and letting him play with markers), giving him a snack and water and by giving him lots of cuddles. After 40 minutes passed, we went out to check on our appointment – did they forget about us? No, the x-ray machines were acting up and they would be coming to get us soon. Luckily, not 5 minutes passed when they came to get us. We headed over to the x-ray room and I could see N’s face as he recognized the place and crying began again.

They put us both in lead vests and took the necessary pictures while N wailed. I then carried him back to the examination room and calmed him yet again. Not too much later the doc finally came in and pronounced him healed! She was very pleased by the bone growth and showed me how smooth everything has healed. I was astonished to see how much has grown in the past month–just amazing to see how these kiddos grow (not surprising when you hear his 18-month growth statistics).

After having the cast taken off, N was immediately standing on his leg. He isn’t walking much on it–standing, crusing a bit, but mostly crawling. One week later, you can see stiffness in that leg. As the doctor predicted, he walks with a limp because he’s not wanting to flex the ankle that was in the cast. This is a normal part of the healing process and should be gone in another week or two.

I’m glad to have the cast off and to hear my baby’s healing nicely. N’s glad to have his glorious baths back–playing in the water is seriously one of his favorite activities!012

All that said, I think N will be glad to not visit any doctors for quite some time!

Now, for the statistics:

N is 26.9 lbs (60th percentile) and 34.6 cm tall (94th percentile). Compared with 12 months, when he was 25 lbs and 30 inches tall, he has gained only 2 lbs and almost 5 inches of height!! I’m back to calling him my ‘baby spider’ because he looks all normal-sided until he stretches out his arms and legs. They’re just so long! When he stands up straight, you can see just how tall he is.

The past week in pics…

3 Apr

It’s always fun to post the random iphone pics that I collect, especially so when I’m home with my toddler. Here’s some fun ones from the past week or so…(I did a similar post this time last year, too)
041035Crawling around the hospital while dad was at the dentist (at the university’s dental school). We’re getting a second opinion on some extensive (& expensive!) dental work he needs.007010playdate with my friend’s baby girl 🙂 022034
044My new glasses – part cat lady, part librarian…004022028032034baby’s passport pic. we’re actually gonna get it done this week!!