Planning Your Career for Babies

Planning Your Career for BabiesWe’ve talked about how to financially plan for babies recently-ish, but we haven’t discussed other broad aspects of planning for babies since 2010, when I was pregnant with my first but hadn’t yet announced it here. (Ah, although we did have a nice discussion about when to get pregnant, which I’d forgotten about.) So what does planning your career for babies look like? I just got this related question from Reader K:

I am a 33 yo associate attorney at a small firm. I was pregnant with my first and then had a miscarriage in October. It was going to be perfect timing work-wise — due at the end of April. So here I am, possibly ready to try again. I have a big trial in a case that’s solely my case in February 2017. I doubt it will settle. Is it irresponsible of me to just try for a baby again regardless of timing? Work is very important but I also feel timing babies around work may be a fool’s errand.

I’m curious to hear what other readers have to say, but of course I have some thoughts. As a mother of two kids under 5, my advice to those of you trying to plan your career around eventually having a baby: Don’t. Some notes:

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How to Get on a Board

How to Get on a Board | CorporetteJoining a nonprofit board allows you to lend a hand for a good cause, build your professional network, develop your skills, and even advance your career. But what is the best way to get on a board — and how should you evaluate board membership opportunities to determine whether a particular organization is the right one for you?

We’ve previously talked about making friends and networkingstrategic volunteering, joining professional organizations, and charitable giving, but we haven’t talked about how to get on a board.

During conversations about board membership in our comment sections, two Corporette readers explained how rewarding they found their experiences:

The year-long process of putting myself out there [to join a board], figuring out what I care about, what my skills are, what organizations are doing good work… it was so valuable. It was great to push myself like that, and I think it will have huge benefits for me down the road, both in terms of career and personal growth. —Reader S

Lawyers (we’ve had a few since I’ve been on the board) are always welcome. It has been a great experience. … You might reach out to friends / contacts / coworkers whose volunteer work sounds interesting to you and explain you’re looking to become involved in X field, and ask if they know of any upcoming opportunities or have any suggestions for people to contact. —Reader A

If you’d like to get on a board, here are a few tips:

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Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Women

slow cooker recipes for working womenWhen we were doing our roundup of posts to help with your resolutions, I realized it’s been too long since we had an open thread with shared crock pot recipes.  So many recipes have easy prep, easy clean up, and such a long cook time that you can start your dinner before you even leave the house in the morning. I’ve always been a huge fan of slow cookers, even in my singleton days — if I wasn’t planning on working late enough to get a Seamless dinner and didn’t have dinner plans, odds are good I had something brewing in the slow cooker for an easy weeknight dinner.  I’m a big fan of using the slow cooker to “lock me in” to healthier choices than I might make otherwise.  Shall I stop in to the fast food place? Nah — I’ve got food waiting for me in the crockpot at home.  To that end I’ve made a ton of stuff in the slow cooker that you don’t need to make in a slow cooker — pierogies, fried rice (with brown rice and/or quinoa), and meat sauce all come to mind.  I’ve posted some of my favorite recipes before (like the 5-ingredient Moroccan Chicken Lentils Stew or my super-healthy pulled pork) but I’ve pasted another one we like, Mediterranean Beef Stew (in my slow cooker right now!) below.  (Pictured.) So, ladies, please share — are you the fan of slow cooked dinners? Which are your favorite slow cooker recipes?  

For what it’s worth I almost always use a slow cooker liner to make cleanup easier, and although I have some fancier slow cookers, my favorite one remains an old 4.5 quart one similar to this $30 one, pictured above.  (Pro tip: just make sure the stoneware is entirely removable — I had a cheap one when I first got out of college that had the stoneware attached to the electric base and it made cleaning a total pain.) If you haven’t used a slow cooker before, note that there are a ton of recipes for vegans and meat-eaters alike — and these days a lot of recipes go well beyond canned cream of mushroom soup.  (Though, FWIW, I really like cream of mushroom soup — but I avoid cream of chicken soup like the plague.  If you get the boxed soup or boxed tomatoes it’s a bit healthier because you avoid BPA.)

Another note: cooking for the freezer has become hugely popular — people will cook double amounts or cook several recipes in one weekend in order to fill their freezer with pre-cooked meals. Another popular technique is slow cooking from the freezer — pre-assembling slow cooker meals that can just be dumped in — and then freezing those.  (I have some links in our Further Reading, below.) I don’t have a lot of experience with either technique, and I’d love to hear your experiences.   (I’ll admit I often use frozen veggies, particularly for things like chopped onions (I haaaaate chopping onions for some reason) or at the end of a recipe to bulk it up (like adding a bag of frozen cauliflower to Buffalo Chicken Pasta), but I tend to raise my eyebrows at a recipe that just has you chopping fresh vegetables and adding them to a freezer bag along with raw meat and other ingredients, without blanching them first — but maybe it just doesn’t matter in a stew or whatnot.) Oh, a lot of people are also doing things like ricing cauliflower to use with stew dishes instead of using white rice, which is something I’ve yet to try, but fits with my “the more vegetables the better” philosophy.

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How to Learn a New Language

Learn a New LanguageMaybe one of your new year’s resolutions is to learn a new language, or to re-learn a language you took in school but can’t speak anymore. We’ve listed the three main options for language learning below, but we’d love to hear your specific suggestions in the comments! Have you learned a new language just for fun, or to further your career? What are your best tips, ladies?

  1. Traditional language programs (e.g., Rosetta Stone): You can choose from 25 languages to learn with Rosetta Stone, including Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and more. Check out a free demo here (after picking a language). You can see the prices here; for example, right now a one-year online subscription is $199, while a two-year subscription is $209, and an instant download of Levels 1-5 is $209. (It looks like these are temporary discounts, by the way.) According to Rosetta Stone’s FAQ page, “It will take about 40-50 hours to complete the content in each level.” Here’s a review from The Economist from a few years ago and one from PC Mag.
    Others: Pimsleur, Fluenz, Speed Learning Languages, Babbel 
  2. Free language tools (e.g., Duolingo): With Duolingo you can choose from 15 languages, including French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and surprisingly, Esperanto. This video (autoplay YouTube) explains that the program — which is free, with no ads — teaches you to read, write, listen, and speak through “bite-size skills that look like games.” You can use Duolingo on your computer or get the app, which has versions for iPhone, Android, and Windows phones. The company also offers online language certification for $20. Here’s a PC Mag review and an Economist review.
    Others: Foreign Service Institute public domain language courses, Internet Polyglot
  3. Online tutors/language partners: Many, many options exist in this category, including Verbalplanet ($22 for 45 minutes), Livemocha (free), Verbling (varies; teachers set their own prices), Live Lingua ($9.99/hour and up), LingQ ($0-39/month), and Lang-8 (free). Here are some tips on finding and using an online tutor.

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Tales from the Wallet: Paying Down Debt vs. Saving

paying down debt vs. savingIt’s the New Year, and I heard a lot of chatter among commenters about when they should be paying down debt vs. saving. It’s a huge question, and we’ve talked about some related things (like how to pay off huge student loans and live within your means), but we haven’t talked about when to save vs. when to pay down debt in too long. Readers, what are your best thoughts on paying down debt vs. saving? When is getting out of debt a priority?

(Pictured: Comme des Garçons ‘Super Fluo’ French Wallet, $204 at Nordstrom.)

A few thoughts from me:

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The Hunt: Laptop Totes and Sleeves

laptop totes for womenSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We haven’t done a roundup of stylish laptop totes in a THOUSAND YEARS, so I thought we’d take a look today. Ladies, do you have any trusty laptop totes? Do you prefer a laptop sleeve or an entire tote for laptops?

Psst: we’ve talked about how to lighten your load in the past, as well as how to save your back while commuting.

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