Sunday, March 29, 2009

the meaning of work in the 21st century

I've been lucky. Ever since my first was born 2.5 years ago, I've been working online for an amazing organization, So when Fem2.0 put out the call for blogs on women and work in the 21st century, I thought, "Hey! I might have something to say about this."

I had to look no further than my own organization's blog for inspiration. Joan Blades, intrepid co-founder of both and wrote about "Working Smart vs. Working Stupid," talking about the virtues of online work. Joan Williams writes a persuasive post on important work-life policies which includes flexibility.

Flexibility is really important to me. I have two kids under 2.5 years old, a bit of (free!) childcare help from my mom, and a part time job. We're saving up to buy a house right now, and I can't put thousands of dollars toward childcare. And truth be told, while the juggle to produce work AND care for little ones is sometimes crazy-making, I feel lucky I have this opportunity to juggle. I can take a second to hug my kid or to nurse while typing. I'm not going to get invited to Cirque du Soleil for my balancing act, but it has its sweet moments.

However! Working for an online organization means that there exists practically nothing BUT the bottom line. The results are almost all that matters. We talk all the time about metrics, for good reason-- in online work, if we can't measure it, maybe it didn't happen.

That isn't to say that the stuff that cannot be measured isn't important. A good online organizer is a good on-the-ground organizer, too. It's still people that move policy, not just online ephemera -- or "the ether," as they say. And to move people, to organize well, you have to be good at connecting with those people. Using emotion! Geekdom isn't all 0110101. I do pick up the phone and make personal connections with folks, and my favorite still is meeting colleagues and potential allies face to face. I'm good face to face and try to get in as much as possible.

It also isn't to say there isn't *some* face time involved. It's just that it takes different forms. I should probably schedule a one-on-one call with my ED right now, in fact. Face time online can also mean leaving my "Available to chat" button on every time I'm logged on- including right now, so if a co-worker happens to be online at 11:03 PM PST and needs me, she can contact me. I'm ok with this level of availability, because with it comes the flexibility I need to raise my kids.

If I had to work in that 1950s corporate model of an office that Joan Williams describes, well, everything would be different. The way I raise my babies, the way I live my life. My priorities would shift to accommodate my work. Now, my work life and personal life accommodate each other. This satisfies me-- it seems sane and reasonable. I can prioritize my family without feeling like my work is suffering. I can work without feeling like I'm losing touch.

Of course, it's not perfect. There are days I'm on mute for entire conference calls because I'm holding a crying baby. Days when it takes 15 minutes to write a simple email because I'm nursing and typing one-handed. Days when I just want ONE freaking hour to myself to think uninterrupted, and not have that hour be 12:00 AM- 1:00 AM.

But it's what I've got, and I'm grateful. I know I'll keep finding ways to increase my productivity and to improve my parenting. I hope I keep learning forever. And I hope the American corporate culture is just as committed to improving, changing, growing, evolving.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


D to Paloma: "Are you going to become a camping, hiking, football-loving physicist?"

P: "Yes!"

D: "Woo hoo!!!" [throws both hands up in the air]

P: "Touchdown!"

And as we laugh and laugh, she keeps this hilariously serene look on her face, until she cracks and giggles. Once. God, I love how serious and silly she is. Look!

And here is one of my lovely little Chonkers:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ice creams you must try

I just wrote this to my online mama friends:
"there is nothing greater in the world of ice cream than Haagen Dazs' Caramelized Pear and Toasted Pecan ice cream. Unless it's Haagen Dazs' brown sugar ice cream, which has five ingredients: milk, cream, eggs, sugar, molasses/brown sugar. Holy mother of sugar, that stuff is happiness. If you are at all ice-creamedly inclined, you have to try these.

I would say I'm something of an ice cream lover. I think that fact was established the summer I studied human rights in France and had une boule of gelato Every Single Day (and walked it off every single day-- those Europeans know how to live, sigh).

Berkeley CA has no shortage of fine, handmade, artisanal ice creams and gelati. Off the top of my head, you've got: Ici, Sketch (the finest soft-serve-yet-true-ice-cream you will ever have), Tara's Organic, Gelato Milano, Naia (originally Mondo Gelato, and better when it was), the place at the bottom of Solano with Mitchell's (but Solano needs more and better ice cream!).

San Ramon has Loard's ice cream, which has a fabulous Caramel Cashew. And Castro Valley has the fabulous Knudsen's Ice Creamery, a family owned/operated business for decades. They also make candy and serve organic diner food. !!! SUPER fab.

If you know of more good places to get ice cream in the Bay Area, please add to the list!

Friday, March 13, 2009

everything loves you

Paloma has been waking up in the middle of the night and has had some trouble falling asleep. Sometimes she says she's scared.

So, kind of inspired by Goodnight Moon, I went through everything we could see in the dark shadows of her room, and told her it loved her.

The towel that we used in the bath? It loves her; it kept her warm and dry.

The clothes hanging up? They love her; they're soft and warm.

The noise from the vent? It loves her; it's warm air from the heater, blowing just to keep her cozy.

Etc. I think it helped her feel more secure about the shadows, to think that they're actually things that love her. :)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Lifesavers-- candy or much much more?

No, this isn't another chocolate review (although I've got a couple of those lined up!).

This is a great email from on getting all kids health coverage in CA. I was surprised to learn that it's totally possible to cover all kids. We just have to make sure that our legislators don't pull a Jindal and leave federal money on the table because they didn't budget properly.

Here's the email. (And yes, I'm one of the signers at the end.) Big kisses for anyone who signs on to this!

Dear CA member,

Thanks to your amazing and sustained effort, Congress and President Obama have thrown a lifeline to children who need healthcare! Our national leaders have made healthcare for families a top priority during this time of economic crisis by passing several pieces of legislation that give states the additional money they need to cover more kids. They've thrown our kids a lifesaver, quite literally.

But our work is not done -- California's leaders must act soon to take advantage of all possible opportunities to get federal funds. The federal government has provided the life preservers for our kids but they won't do us any good in storage! It's up to our state legislators to throw these lifesavers to our kids.

Tell your CA state legislators, "Healthcare coverage for kids is a lifesaver for families! Do your part to ensure healthcare coverage for all kids.":

Add your name (plus any personalized message you want to share) and we'll deliver it to legislators -- attached to some real candy lifesavers -- to remind them that we're watching and waiting for them to do their part to throw kids a lifesaver on healthcare. It's easy to get lost in the shuffle in Sacramento, but an attention-grabbing (and sweet) message always gets noticed.

Please pass this message on to your friends, family members and colleagues in California right away so they can ask legislators to give kids a lifesaver too! The more messages -- and real candy lifesavers -- our legislators receive, the stronger our message that children's healthcare coverage is a priority that cannot be ignored.

Our continued energy and commitment to this issue is more important than ever. The federal government has given California an opportunity to cover uninsured kids and bring badly-needed federal funds into our state. The governor and state legislature must not allow that opportunity to vanish.

Don't forget to send your legislators a strong message AND a real lifesaver to remind them that covering kids is indeed a lifesaver for families:

Thank you for all your work on behalf of California's children.

-- Ashley, Donna, Kristin, Anita, Julia & the Team

P.S. Has the economic downturn affected your family's healthcare coverage? Share your story here:

P.P.S. Some members recently had their Letters-to-the-Editor about the importance of children's healthcare coverage printed in their local newspapers. Congratulations! Here's one example:

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Under the Bridge- literal version

I grew up with and loved the Red Hot Chili Peppers. So of course I laughed my head off at this parody (aka the literal version-- has a series of them).


Monday, March 02, 2009

the treadmill nap

So we officially hit the four month sleep shakeup last week. Sabrina was having a harder time with naps especially. Before I'd been able to do that thing where you put the baby down "drowsy but awake." Don't you hate sleep "expert" advice, btw? I do. Sleep experts somehow really get under my skin, how they claim your child will be Totally Messed Up if you don't (deep tunnel voice) OBEY THE SLEEP EXPERT.

Anyhow, but it was actually working to put her down drowsy, until last week. That's when she just started yelling.

So I picked her up, put her in a sling (ok, sometimes I just carried her) and got onto the treadmill. Sometimes without shoes. Dangerous, I know, I won't do it again, probably. In five minutes, she was out.

I have to say, it was super gratifying to watch the calories burned get higher and higher while her eyelids got heavier and heavier. Trader Joe's Vanilla Joe-Joe's here I come. (Ok, exercise shouldn't be an excuse to eat more-- or should it?)

And then I put her down for a great nap. It's worked like 80% of the time so far! Yay!