You Ask, I Answer - Part Five

Friday, October 12, 2012

Impromtu photo shoot with a pumpkin.
{I'll be inserting random pictures from Thanksgiving weekend into this post... just because.}

What are your professions outside of the home?

Right now I am employed with our local public school board as an elementary teacher (but currently on maternity leave). I've had the most experience teaching grades two and three, although last year I had my first experience with junior / senior kindergarten.
I was frightened to death to teach JK/SK and literally spent the whole summer with a pit of anxiety in my stomach thinking that I didn't have the patience and/or stamina to do it. However, I was quite surprised at how fun it was. Play cars with you? Sure. Help you make a flower at the craft table? You got it. Bubbles at the water table? Oh yeaaaaaaaah. It does take a million hundred ounces of patience to get through each day, but the kiddos are pretty darn cute (when they're not having tantrums or peeing their pants).
While hanging out with and entertaining kids comes pretty naturally to me, the planning ahead part of the teaching profession clashes big time with my personality type. During the school year I am in a constant state of stress due to always having to be ten steps ahead with planned lessons and activities. 
As y'all know already, I dream of doing something a bit more creative for a living. Waaaay back in the day, I originally wanted to take Graphic Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. But, I was intimidated by the big city and the application required a portfolio of my work. Back then I had no idea what a portfolio even was. Everyone in my town went to university for things like: engineering, psychology, biology. No-one I knew took anything artsy. Being the fraidy cat that I am, I went to teacher's college instead. What would I love to do? Hmmmm.... own my own cottage furniture decor shop...... photography...... etsy shop with vintage goodies....... interior decorating...... organizing...... painting furniture...... blogging..... flipping houses....... all of it appeals to me but all of it scares me at the same time.  
Alex works for a global mining company at one of their biggest mining locations in Canada. He originally worked in the local IT department developing/fixing software (computer geek, cough cough) but now he is a project manager type-person. He's described his job to me a zillion times but it's complicated. Apparently he gets to run meetings and sit in meetings and schedule meetings. Snore. Oops, did I say that out loud?!?! He wears tucked in collared shirts and pleated pants so he must be important over there. Sometimes I ask him if he would like a pocket protector for his fancy shirts but then he gets mad at me.   
Roary doing what he does best. Chomping on a stick.
Will you be going back to work, or will you get to hang out with that ADORABLE Cooper? Are you a teacher? Somewhere it seems I remember you talking about school????
Yes, teacher (see above).
Up here in Canada we get twelve beautiful months of maternity leave. So lucky, yes I know. Technically I should be returning to work for May and June of this school year but I have the option of extending my leave without pay. It's not definite but I will likely take advantage of that and return to work next September (allowing me to stay home with Coops for an extra four months)(16 months total).
We've also been having some discussions about me possibly going back to work half-time (half days). Obviously I never want to leave the Coopster ever, ever, ever, ever, ever and would gladly and willingly stay home with him full-time forever and ever and ever and ever. Not sure if I can convince the hubs of that yet though. I keep telling him that I'll start couponing if I have to. Hahaha.  
The view at our cottage. 'Nuff said.
What is your husband's job & how does he find time to renovate The Fixer-Upper?!
Alex works as a Project Manager for a mining company (see above). As for the renovations, Alex does all of his renos (at our place and at The Fixer Upper) in his spare time. He'll work on projects at night, on the weekends, and even on his holidays. I am very lucky to have such a talented handyman for a hubs. He is completely self-taught and can now do all kinds of crazy reno stuff including the hard stuff like tiling, plumbing, and electrical.  
We had to make a bit of a sacrifice in that when we bought The Fixer Upper I looked after Cooper pretty much solo (could that be why he is such a mama's boy?) while Alex worked his regular job and then did renos over there after work and on weekends. Now that Alex's parents have moved in, they have taken on most of the work themselves so now things have gotten a bit more balanced at home.
(Note: We do have awesome family and friends that will often come over to drink beer help Alex with his renos.) 
Roary again. He follows me around a lot.
Oh, you wanted to see one more picture of Coopaloops? Okay, I'll oblige but just this once.
Coopster with a pumpkin AND a block of wood.

P.S. Feel free to leave convincing arguments for Alex on why me staying home with Cooper is the best idea ever. :)

For more answers to your questions you can check out these previous posts:


  1. If your budget can afford you beling a stay at home it. It is the best gift you can give your child. If you have to work just make sure that you have some quality time with your baby and that one parent can be flexible.

  2. How is he this big already? Love these pics of him with the pumpkins!! Hat is so cute!

    12 months of maternity leave? You biatch!!! That is amazing, take advantage!!! Is your teaching salary large enough to compensate for the cost of daycare (and have a lot left over to make it worth you leaving him?). If not, then try to stay home....but is so fun and hard...some days I have to remind myself that taking care of Maura is my job when I start to slack.

  3. I don't know if the whole time I've been reading your blog (over a year) I've just been missing the fact that you're in Canada or you've never mentioned it(the latter is less likely).
    I LOVE discovering Canadian blogs.I'm a Canadian girl as well (Alberta), and I'm happy you can represent the ol' Red and White in blog land. PS. Cooper is adorable, good work baking that.


  4. One year is wonderful, but even then that first year w/the baby flies by and before you know it they're calling you back. I agree, if there's any way you can afford to stay home, have hubby lead more meetings, stay home. My daughter just turned 23 and I have no idea where the years went. You'll never be sorry if you stay home. Like Sara said: Do the math and figure out how much money you'll have left over after day care, etc.

    Is your dog a full Golden. Those are great pics of him. How old is he now? My daughter is wanting another big dog, and I'd consider one of those due to their disposition.

  5. If I live to be 100, staying home with my two children will by far be the single most important and best decision I will have ever, ever, ever made!
    :) smaller house and less money with one income for a short time, equals memories that are priceless and treasured beyond what words can say!

  6. What a sweet family you have. I was also a teacher and I tried returning to work but the 2nd daycare situation was just NOT OK so shortly after baby #2 I stopped working. Even though we had a few "crunch times" I have four amazing kids who are young adults now and I'm thankful I got to be home while they were growing up. I did teach part-time as they got older. You and your hubby will figure out what's best for Cooper when it's time to decide. Enjoy this "baby season"!

  7. Cooper is so cute!! I wanna squeeze him! (Or go upstairs and wake my Luci-Lu and squeeze her some more.) I teach too, so I can definitely say that there is absolutely no way that you can miss the first 8 months of school and go back for the last two. Take the hit to the purse strings for your own sanity!!! Check into your options though for next year....job sharing can really work for some people if staying home full time isn't an option. (I have attempted in vain for years to be allowed to stay home. (Un)fortunately our district gives great perks when spouses both teach, and if I quit we'd have to pay more for insurance than we currently do for we'd lose my salary.)
    I do have a question Canadians always celebrate Thanksgiving in October or does it sometimes change (like here Easter is sometimes in March, sometimes in April)?

  8. Oh Sarah, I feel you on the being thankful for 12 months of mat leave. I go back very end of Jan or early Feb. I think I will be going 3/4 time instead of full time. Lucky if I can. But I am scared as I have worked full time since highschool (wasnt that just yesterday?) Maybe we can open a trans Canada etsy store ;)

  9. Ok, convincing arguments re: staying home:

    (which is mostly a rambling account of our recent experience and goals)

    When I started us off on parental leave, there was a dent in our income, but thanks to Geoff continuing to work full-time, and EI payments, and because I was only working 1/2 time before leave (um, yes, I did that for two full years BEFORE we had kids, after doing the full-time gig for 11 years. I am all about work-life balance. Or just a bit lazy) it was no big deal. Anyway. As my leave neared its end, we had no idea what to do about child care - as in, we planned to miraculously avoid it while also having me go back to work (at that point thinking 1-2 days/week). In the end, I went back 2.5 days, and Geoff took leave. That allowed us to live out an interesting experiment in chopping the primary income in half. And it worked out. No frills, but we managed. Then Geoff opted to continue his leave past the point (one-year mark after placement) at which EI opted out. So, yes, no primary income. So I generously began working 3 days/week. That is how we survived the summer.

    And, while maybe not a long-term solution, it worked. And that is when I really clued in as to how much a family can chop the budget drastically and not even experience much of a change in lifestyle. Yikes - we can get used to so much disposable income, even when we don't think we have it. Basically, for the first time in a decade, I would not be able to answer the question, "When were you last at Winners or Homesense?". Anyway. Definitely worth it. Absolutely. No crazy mornings, at least minimal home upkeep through the week so weekends could be free of cleaning and errands and whatnot. Worth it.

    So, in September, I accepted my employer's offer of working 4 days/week, fully intending that Geoff would resign his position at the end of his leave and make our status as a one-income family official. And now, this is where I become totally hypocritical. Because I totally think if a family can survive with one parent at home full-time, in many (most? all?) cases I would bet that is the best option.

    And then we found a roomier house on nearly 5 acres. And purchasing this house, if it comes together, means upping the income a bit, at least for a while. It also means I would have a home office located away from the sounds of family life happening all around me while I attempt to work.

    So now, we are somewhat reluctantly seeing Geoff head back to work in a week. And I am working 4 days/week (which I would not have done had we foreseen this turn of events). And we have a part-time sitter lined up. And the only way I am rationalizing any of this is that the sitter will be coming to our place, and between that fact and my flexible schedule, will only be directly caring for our kids 3-4 hours/day, 3-4 days/week, and I am sure the kids will be forever grateful for the chance (if it works out) to grow up in the country. I hope. And yes, it is my dream, not theirs, so I have no idea how thankful they will be.

    Anyway. Another reason for the (hopefully) temporary nature of Geoff's return to work is to fund some educational goals that will ultimately (hopefully) lead into a flexible, part-time career for him, so that we can both enjoy that lovely work-life balance and we so desire, as well as raising our kids with us, at home. Ok. The moral the story is, I totally support staying home, and believe that in many cases it can be done. Just watch out for 5-acre properties calling your name.

    Oh, and my favourite new book (which also presents some convincing arguments without actually stating that anyone "should" stay home full-time - it really isn't about that at all - is "Hold On To Your Kids.." by Dr. Gordon Neufeld. Good stuff. I would be curious to hear a teacher's take on his whole premise around peer culture and influence and attachments.

    Regardless of my thoughts, I wish you well in making these decisions over time, as they are not easy ones.

  10. I decided to stay home with our first 23 years ago and never regretted the decision. I was at home for the next few years as I had three beautiful children, going back to work part time when the youngest was around 4. Although at times it was hard financially and mentally (sometimes it seemed the day would never end) I would recommend it to any family if they can swing it. My last one is in grade 12 this year and I would love to have those happy days back, they go by too fast.

  11. Never knew you're a teacher! I bet your an excellent teacher :) Photos of Cooper and Roary are so adorable! And he is getting so big!

  12. Love your blog!

    My hubby and I decided I would stay home with our son after he was born. My hubby was working full-time and going to school full-time when my son was born. We felt that me staying at home was the best thing we could give our son. We had to cut a lot of corners, but we did it. Son #2 came a month before my husband graduated from college. I now have been home for 17 years (my oldest is a Junior in high school). I have gotten temp jobs here and there over the years to help out when we needed it, but for the most part, my husband has worked hard to provide the $$ we need, and my job was to do the most I could with it. I would not trade the time I had at home with my sons for anything. Each family has different needs, but me staying at home worked for us.

  13. Joey's GrandmaOctober 18, 2012

    I'm a new fan of yours! Love reading your blog, love your humor and your economical ideas. Your baby is adorable and hubs doesn't look so bad either.


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