Maternity leave, redux

eBay has done a very cool thing starting this January 2016.  They have really beefed up their maternity leave/family leave policies.  Last year, the policy was you could get up to 12 weeks maternity leave, but only six weeks were paid by short-term disability and it was at 80% of your base pay.  Starting in January, you can now get up to 24 weeks PAID leave (at 100% base pay!), 12 for disability and 12 for bonding time.  I was kind of miffed that I had missed this new policy, being that I had had Leo back in May.  But then! I heard some other girls in a different department talking about how they were taking advantage of the new policy, and one of the women had had her baby last March!

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I asked my manager if it was something I could take advantage of and to my surprise, eBay is allowing the new policy for anyone provided the baby is not yet a year old.  You can believe I snapped up that opportunity!  So starting on Monday, I will have the next 12 weeks off work (I already used my short-term disability when I actually gave birth to Leo)!  How cool is that?!  And eBay gives this benefit to fathers as well.  I told one of my teammates about it and he’s taking off the next 12 weeks as well.  Kind of leaves our team a bit short staffed, but I don’t feel bad about taking up this extended leave time.  Baby months are short, you know?  Leo is already on the cusp of crawling and I want to physically be there to get in on that action.  Sometimes I get irritated having to be on the phone with members who are surly, but I definitely appreciate eBay’s employee benefits.

This past month has had ups and downs.  In December I came down with a cold and had to miss the company holiday party.  I hear it was really good this year, both the food and the entertainment.

Velvet and the girls celebrated the new year with us at our house and we ate tons of junk food and watched silly movies before ringing in the new years with the folks on tv.

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On New Years morning we got the word that Velvet’s husband had passed away early that morning in a car accident.  Talk about a shock.  Not the best way to start the year.  Family and friends have been so generous with their outpouring of support, it’s been amazing.  She has some really solid people in her corner and I’m grateful for that.

Dad and Dani came for about a week after we got the news and helped Velvet with some stuff around the house and filing paperwork, that kind of thing.  It was sad circumstances but great to see them.  Dad hadn’t shaved since his foot surgery last summer so he was rocking a full-on beard, it was great!  And he and Dani had new tattoos they didn’t tell us about.  They are getting to be rebels in their old age.  (Yeah, I said old age, Dad, deal with it!)

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Jesse has started his final semester of school.  It seems like a light at the end of a loooooooong tunnel.  If it seems long to me, it probably feels longer to him.  Hopefully he can get a job straight out of graduation.  We’d like to get a job back in the Pacific NW, but I have a feeling he may get something closer to here.  Just in case, I’ve been looking up acreage in Washington.  You never know.

The whole family was hit with a stomach bug earlier this month.  I called out a couple days for myself and then Ezra was ill and then Jesse.  Leo was sick a couple times but I couldn’t tell if it was the bug or just normal baby pukes.  I’m thinking probably it was the bug because Leo is not one for just randomly spitting up.

In the past month we cleared out the junk room upstairs and moved Ezra into that room then moved Leo into Ezra’s old room.  (For those keeping track, we recently swapped rooms with Ezra, so there has been a LOT of room changing lately).  After Ezra was all moved in it still took us awhile to get the rest of our stuff out of the room.  But, now it’s all his and just has mainly his stuff in it.  It looks like a bedroom again, completely different than from the past four years.

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It’s been a little difficult for me having Leopold in his own room.  I have to check on him at night before I go to bed to make sure he’s still breathing or to rearrange him so he’s covered by blankets.  That kind of thing.

Ezra finished his skating lessons.  Or rather I should say, we went to maybe three lessons and he just didn’t want to go to more.  So that was the end of that.  Maybe he’ll be more interested next year.  However, he did just start swimming lessons and though we’ve only gone the one time, he was VERY excited about it, both before and after.  He got water in his eyes at one point and completely freaked out about that so we need to remember to bring his goggles next time.

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There is this book I’ve read several times, a romance novel if you must know, and in it they talk about chicken marsala a lot and the lead in the books tries her hand at making it.  I’ve always wanted to try it so finally purchased all the ingredients and here is the first result:

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It was good but slightly bland, so the next time I made it I about quadrupled the amount of wine and chicken stock (because the first time I had doubled it) and I also added shallots and garlic.  It was fantastic!  We are going to put this in the rotation for dinners.

I’m still debating between raised garden beds and hay bale gardening.  I think the raised garden beds look more neat but I like that after a season or two we could use the spent hay bales as mulch.  I really want to ramp up our efforts this season.  We are going to do the tomatoes and peppers, but I’d like to also do spaghetti squash again (and actually eat it this time) and maybe a bed for lettuces and one for onions and garlic.

I decided to give up on the milk kefir.  While I do think I was getting good probiotics, I am inherently lazy and I didn’t want to have to tend to something daily.  I’d go a week before switching the grains to new milk and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore so I fed the rest of the kefir, milk grains and all, to Benny and that is the end of that.

We did just start a ginger bug again, though.  Jesse has taken it on because we are both really into ginger ale right now and would like to make our own.  A ginger bug is the basis of this.  Right now it’s happily bubbling away with wild yeast colonizing the jar and eating the sugar.  In about a week we can take some of that liquid and make a ginger ale with it.  Exciting!  Probiotic ginger ale, yeah!

I also purchased a 2.5 gallon dispenser to brew kombucha.  Right now I have a 1-gallon container and it’s a pain trying to bottle up the brew.  This new dispenser has a spigot in it so bottling the drink should be much easier, and I won’t have to remove the scoby when making the new batch.

Over the course of the next 12 weeks I will attempt to be more active and to eat better.  Fingers crossed for me!