Why I decided to return to work after having a baby

I returned for work for multiple reasons. Finances played a role. I am proud to contribute to my family financially. Although my husband makes more money than I do (he works in a completely different field), we still could not easily get by with just his salary alone, mostly due to our student loans. However, my job does have good health insurance benefits, so that is another reason why I returned to work.

But besides the financial reasons of working, I returned because I love my job. While I miss my daughter greatly throughout the day, I don’t think I would be happy if I didn’t work. Perhaps part of this is because of the nature of my job; I work for a cancer institute, the same cancer institute that saved my husband’s life and made my daughter’s life possible. It’s something that has a lot of meaning to me personally.

When I was home on maternity leave, I loved being with my daughter but I hated being home all day. As much as it was nice to not have a strict early morning routine like we do now, I didn’t feel fulfilled and was constantly looking for time when I could stimulate myself intellectually, to do things like read or write. I don’t feel that as much now that I am back to work. My intellectual/social needs are met at work and when I am with my daughter, I live in the moment and spend time focusing on her. Our time together is very special because it is limited. I am much more excited to go home at the end of the day than I used to be because I can’t wait to see her.

I also believe she receives a number of benefits by going to daycare every day. She spends time around babies her own age and slightly older, something that wouldn’t happen if I stayed home. I believe it will also help her be more independent.

I believe every woman has to find what works for her, what makes sense for her family financially and what makes her most happy. I’m glad that right now, I believe I’m living my best life. Now if I could just find a way to fit in time to exercise and clean!

On my decision to become a mom

While becoming a mom wasn’t my only life goal, I always thought I wanted to have children. I hadn’t thought much about when, though.

I knew I wanted to establish myself in my career and it was nice to spend a few years married without kids. Granted, since my husband was diagnosed with cancer less than a month after we were married, we didn’t have much choice, as the doctor recommended we wait at least two years after his treatment ended before trying.

It’s amazing how something horrible and unexpected like cancer can change your life plan. If he hadn’t had cancer, I don’t know if we would’ve decided to have kids as soon as we did. But going through that made me realize our time might be limited. Your life  course can change permanently in a matter of seconds, and then there’s no going back.

We got to a point where he was far enough out from treatment that it would be safe. I had a job that I loved and an employer is supportive of families. We had a house that we’d been in for a little bit and that had extra room to welcome a baby.

I worried about the money aspect. If we didn’t have student loans, we’d basically be filthy rich. I won’t tell you how much a month we pay because it’ll make you sick, but having those, combined with a mortgage and all the other bills that come with being an adult made me nervous to talk kids. They’re expensive! I thought about waiting until I was 40 and hopefully more financially stable.

But who knows what will happen in the next 12 years? We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. If you know there’s something you want out of life, you shouldn’t wait to do it, or at least to start pursuing it.

My husband is in a good place health-wise now. But if something ever were to change and I hadn’t pursued that dream of being a mom and having a child with him because I was waiting for the circumstances to be 100 percent perfect, I would be devastated.

I believe it’s better to take that leap of faith. Money will work itself out. It was the best decision I’ve made. My daughter is amazing and I love my growing family!

Review: TAZO chai vanilla caramel latte

I am a coffee girl through and through. I drink about 1 to 3+ cups a day black. That means no cream and sugar for the fast food workers who always ask if I want cream and sugar after I order a black coffee… but I digress.

I was hesitant to try the TAZO Chai vanilla caramel latte concentrate mix because I don’t like beverages that are too sweet tasting, too milky tasting or too calorie-dense. However, by using your own milk, you have some control over the amount of calories and the final taste of the beverage.

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All you need to make this tasty drink is TAZO chai vanilla caramel latte concentrate mix, found at your local Wegmans (or other grocery store if you’re so unfortunate as to not have a Wegmans) in the tea aisle, and a type of milk to mix with the concentrate. The package recommends 2% milk but I never drink that. In fact, I hardly drink milk at all these days. What I happened to have on hand was unsweetened Silk AlmondCoconut Blend milk. At 35 calories per 8 ounces, I save about 100 calories compared to the 2% milk they suggest on the box. And the tasty sweet and spicy is still there with the lower calorie milk.

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This couldn’t be easier to make. Literally a 4-year-old could do it. I had just a small mug to fill, so I used a half cup of the Tazo chai concentrate and a half cup of the coconut almond milk. You could make more or less, but just make sure you have equal parts milk product and chai concentrate. The concentrate comes out looking really dark, but don’t worry. It will lighten when you add the milk. (In case you are curious, I took a swig of it without the milk and it really wasn’t bad to just drink straight.)

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Mix the two liquids and then pour that mixture into your mug. I microwaved mine for a minute because I didn’t want it to be super hot, just warmed up. If you like yours hot, microwave longer or heat on the stove if you’re into dirtying more dishes…

That’s it! Enjoy. If you follow the steps above using those ingredients, you’ll only set yourself back about 105 calories – that’s less than a skinny peppermint mocha at Starbuck’s, although less caffeine. But it’s still got some to get you going but not so much to make you jittery.

I don’t think I’ll stop drinking coffee but this is a tasty drink I could see having once in a while as a treat. If we ever end up getting snow (It’s Dec. 12 in Rochester, New York, and still no sign of the white, fluffy stuff!) this would be a great replacement for hot cocoa after sledding. It’s probably around the same amount of calories, but it has that little bit of caffeine that hot cocoa lacks. It could help you resist that post-sledding nap.

It’s also worth mentioning that it’s other than a little bit of calcium and vitamin a, it really doesn’t have a lot of stuff (good or bad) in it. The ingredients list is fairly wholesome: water, black tea, black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, natural flavors, cane sugar, honey, natural flavors, ginger juice, vanilla extract, citric acid. While it’s not as good as a tea bag straight from the box, I can bet you’ll find a lot more crazy chemicals in your average pouch of hot cocoa.

What’s your hot beverage of choice? Have you tried chai? If not, get a coupon and give it a try. Then let me know what you think.

Disclaimer: I received free product in making this review. However, the opinions shared here are my own.

 

The Six Stages of Tech Failure & Loss

Despite being a fairly tech-savvy person, I seem to have bad luck with computers and technology. I read an article that said about 80 percent of hard drives make it to or past four years before dying. Well, I’m guess I’m just really good at picking bad computers because the hard drive in my last computer crashed after about three years and the MacBook I got for Christmas in 2013 seems to have just crashed – of course just a few months from the end of the warranty. The frustration level is up to HERE.

I know technology is nothing to stress over. No use crying over broken tech, right? It’s a just a material object and there are so many things in life that are more important. However, ever since I was a youngster IMing all my BFFs to say ~*~*LYLAS*~*~ and putting up away messages with super cool song lyrics, I freak out when technology doesn’t go my way. I’ve noticed every time technology fails me or I can’t seem to figure something out with my tech, I go through a series of emotions that you might call the Six Stages of Tech Grief.

1. Denial. My computer froze. I’ll give it a second. (3 minutes later) I’ll  give it another minute. Oh, I must’ve had one too many tabs open. Let me just force turn it off and turn it back on. Yea, that will definitely do it. It’s not very old and everyone says Macs are so reliable so there’s no way it could be totally broken.

2. Unrelenting research. Crap. It won’t turn back on. Using my phone, iPad, or even resorting to my husband’s old laptop from college which we’ve saved just for situations like this, I Google the heck out of whatever issue my technology is facing. Luckily, I almost always learn that the problems I am facing with tech, others have faced and overcome. This too shall pass! I can fix this. Hallelujah!

3. Begging & Despair  (or, seeking assistance). I researched and was not able to solve. For a second I feel like THE WORLD IS ENDING NOW. All hope is lost. Rather than give up, I turn to begging. I start asking any tech-savvy friends or family members about my tech problem and possibly even taking it to a shop for help (in my most recent case, the Apple store). PLEASE OH PLEASE just help me save my files, Dad/Friend/Cousin/Genius/Anyone who knows anything! (You would think that after having one hard drive crash on me I would learn to be better about backing up my information. Second time’s a charm?)

4. Anger. When the “Genius” can’t immediately fix it either, and I realize I am going to have to pay money to possibly not even resolve the issue on a computer that is only about three months out of warranty, this causes anger. Serious anger. I want to cry and break things at the same time as if that would somehow fix faulty technology. Note: Breaking things never helps the actual problem (even if it makes you feel better.) Hey, technology grief is almost never logical. SO MANY BAD FEELS RIGHT NOW.

5. Complaining on social media, texting and/or voicing frustration to anyone who will listen. Posting on Facebook is a must. Texting my best friends and airing my grievances also has to be done. I need that reassurance that I am not a lunatic for being so angry about my technology not working! When you’re facing a tech crisis: A good friend will tell you everything is going to be OK; a best friend will join you in cursing the name of the company that made your computer and, in effect, caused you this technology pain!

6. Acceptance. After many deep breaths, and plenty of complaining to others, you start to get over it. It’s just technology, no one’s out to get you, and your hard drive crash does not mean God hates you. Maybe God’s trying to teach you a lesson, but God doesn’t hate you. Right…? Right. It just means it’s technology. As one of my J-school profs used to always say, technology will always fail you when you need it most. That’s just life in today’s society, a modern take on Murphy’s Law.

All exaggerating aside, I know there must be others out there who have gone through similar stages of technology grief and loss. Comment below and tell me what steps I’m missing!

2015 Super Bowl Ad Favorites

It’s all over, the Patriots won, I rocked my office Super Bowl Squares and tweeted my heart out about the ads. Did you miss them? You can watch all the national ads here.

This year, we had a lot less humor than we usually have. Many ads were inspiring, caring, loving. Positivity seemed to be the name of the game. In my last post, I shared how the McDonald’s McLovin promotion helped to spread positivity and that’s something that is so greatly needed in our world. I’m glad that some of this year’s Super Bowl ads did just that.

Dads were another theme this year. I’m fortunate enough to have an awesome father who has always been there for me, so I could really relate to these ads and in fact they made me feel quite emotional

Here’s a rundown of my five favorite 2015 Super Bowl Ads:

5. Toyota – My Bold Dad

Being in my twenties, I’ve realized how much my parents in general have done for me. Moms get a lot of deserved recognition but we don’t always recognize everything our dad does for us. It didn’t completely relate to the brand/product, but it was a memorable ad that was entertaining and I enjoyed watching it.

4. Budweiser – Lost Dog

Animals saving animals? That’s almost always going to be a guaranteed win. My husband and I have been thinking about getting a dog soon so this ad was especially touching for us.

3. Always – Like a Girl

This ad was not new but I still love it just like I did the first time I saw it. A girl can do anything, including be a fast runner, a smart student, an innovative scientist, or anything else in the world. Society has put the “like a girl” label on things as a way to say you are bad at something which is just sad. Females of all generations need to stand up for each other and prove that we are strong in whatever facet of life we prefer. Ads like this that bring attention to the issue of gender inequality can help spark conversation and perhaps bring about change. Any ad that does that is very important in my book.

2. Coca Cola – Make It Happy

As I mentioned in my last post, I feel like I see so much negativity these days, especially on social media. And we’ve all heard the tragic stories about youth who are bullied online. I think Coke’s idea to spread happiness is perfect and right on brand. If you haven’t done so yet, check out gomakeithappy.com. It not only shows the real-time “sentiment” based on how people on Twitter are talking, but it allows you to share a happy post when you see a negative post on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere. Definitely worth keeping an eye on that site.

1. Dove Men+Care 

See number one, pretty much. My eyes welled up as I watched that one. I was quickly brought back to life when they showed the product, but for a few seconds, they really had me.

What ad or ads were your favorite this year?

McDonald’s Spreads the McLovin’ – Literally

McDonald’s is sort of a guilty pleasure for me. I don’t want to like it and I don’t want to go there because I know it’s not healthy, but every now and then on a super stressful day or when I have no time, I’ll stop and treat myself. According to recent news, I’m not the only millennial wishing to avoid the food chain, and they have started efforts to improve their brand image among millennials. For example, recently I caught their SnapChat ad and have heard their catchy, folks-y songs on the radio.

They’re great marketing pieces and they got my attention, but they didn’t grab my heartstrings. What did was a promotion they are currently running that allows select customers to “pay” for their McDonald’s order with hugs, “I love yous” to mom and dancing.

In fact, they’ll be airing an ad during the Super Bowl talking about this promotion, which I think is quite smart. In today’s world, we often go through the motions and forget the things that really matter. We don’t tell our moms or siblings or significant others that we love them as often as we should. And our worry of looking silly might cause us to dance less frequently, if ever, and forget about the importance of smiling, having fun and enjoying life.

Working in social media and reading comments people make to news stories in social media these days, I see there is a lot of negativity in our world. But little acts of kindness can add up. I think what McDonald’s is doing is smart and helpful to our world. Even if that call to your mom is tied to you getting a free hashbrown, maybe it will help you to step back and think about your actions. Think about how you can appreciate others you care about or even how you can comfort those in the world who might be suffering.

A little positivity – whether the objective is to sell burgers or just to be nice – can go a long way in our world!

Relax – or treat a friend – with Dr. Teal’s this Holiday Season

The holidays often add stress into our lives, so this is a perfect time of year to treat yourself to a bag of Dr. Teal’s as a holiday gift to yourself or even get a bag for a friend! For me, nothing is more relaxing or more sleep-inducing than a hot bath right before bed. It allows me to become calm, reflect upon the ddr tealsay I’ve had, and sooth achy muscles.

Dr. Teal’s lavendar salts are a wonderful treat and they take the relaxation of a bath to the next level. They are especially soothing at this time of year when it’s cold. I learned that epsom salts have many uses in addition to soothing muscles, which is what I primarily use it for. Some other examples:

  • The salts detoxify you helping your skin feel rejuvinated.
  • Create a homemade hair volumizer “by combining equal parts Epsom Salt and conditioner. Apply and leave in for 20 minutes before rinsing. Repeat the treatment weekly.” (I’m going to have to try this, although my hair is already pretty thick!)
  • Facial exfoliation (add to cleanser once a week)
  • Sunburn relief (It will be a while before I can try this one in living in Western New York, but interesting nonetheless!)
  • Relieves dry lips
  • Helps remedy bee stings and splinters

Check out the amazing uses for epsom salts for more information.

Right now, Dr. Teal’s is hosting an Instagram promotion through which a weekly winner will receive a relax pack. Check out the details here: http://h5.sml360.com/-/ca0u 

If you’re on Instagram, this is a great opportunity to see if you can win a great product while also joining the conversation of many who have been talking about Dr. Teal’s on Instagram.

What’s your favorite way to relax and unwind after a hard day (or week) – or even during the holiday season?  

Full disclosure: I received a bag of Dr. Teal’s Lavender Epsom Salts  for free as part of a mission with Smiley360.com. You can join Smiley360.com, too, and have a chance to receive missions with free samples to try!