Blogs > Media Moms

We are two working mothers — Lauren Rose, the director of business development for Name Bubbles, and Betsy DeMars, the assistant managing editor at The Saratogian. Try as we may to be really good at both, balancing motherhood and career can get pretty messy. As professionals, work schedules and mommy schedules often collide. So, we plow through, hoping at the end of the day, our kids — Lauren's 5-year-old son and Betsy's 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter — know how much we love them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There's only one rule: Be on time.

Each and every Wednesday morning departments heads at The Saratogian gather for a meeting of the minds and to-do lists. There's only one rule: Be on time. If you're not, you have to buy coffee for the entire group the following week. It happens about once a month.

Today I arrived at the meeting with less than a minute to spare with a pair of feet scurrying behind me (another colleague). She made it, too. Just in time. Typically my husband does drop off on Wednesday mornings. That way, my chances of lateness are less. But this wasn't just any Wednesday morning...

My husband is in Asia on business, so I had to drop off.
There is a detour in the exact 1/2 mile between daycare and my office on Church Avenue.
I forgot to preset the coffee last night and didn't have time to make it in the morning.
My son decided he wanted to sleep in today.
Once awake he challenged me at every opportunity.
I hugged, kissed and waved to my son with minutes to spare to get to work.

I arrived. This morning's sacrifice: coffee. Those who know me understand that no coffee doesn't look very good on me. I'm just better WITH coffee. Seriously, I cut down a few months ago and our online manager politely asked me to go back to drinking coffee. I did.

In the mad rush that's my morning, I made it work today. Phew.

Labels: , ,

Daycare Download to the Rescue

Dropping my son off at daycare that very first day back to work meant enduring a kind of emotional pain I'd never experienced before. I don't know how you prepare for something like that ahead of time, but I felt emotionally wrecked and cried all the way to work after ten weeks of maternity leave. After a while (a week or two or three) we all happily settled into our new routine, but those first few days were tough. These early memories of being a fledgling working mom came flooding back to me this week when our newest account executive started her own journey as a working mom. She, like me nearly four years prior, returned to work and began the daily routine of daycare drop offs and pick ups. After nearly two years of being home with her young son she decided it was time to get back to her career. We're glad to have her and to be honest, I've been impressed with her ability to stay focused and upbeat all week. In fact, I haven't seen her shed a tear yet (not that anyone saw me either).

Being a mom who entrusts her most precious gift to daycare workers day-in and day-out needs to keep a "glass if half full" attitude. My silver lining is that I've made some amazing mom friends along the way. Who could possibly have more in common with you at this stage in your life than other working moms dropping their babies off along side you every day?

Through our daycare connection we've developed lasting friendships that have moved us beyond the four walls of daycare. We enjoy play dates, GNO (girls' night out) and family-friendly gatherings as a group. We're down-to-earth moms who work hard, value family, and appreciate the value of a good laugh. We're bankers, wealth managers, ad execs, and entrepreneurs. We're moms.

One of our coping strategies is to exchange what I call the "daycare download" which means we share just about everything; milestones, challenges, wins, losses, and lots of funny stories. Right now there's a lot going on between us. I'm still getting used to my husband traveling to Asia on a regular basis and two of the moms have kids moving up to my son's classroom. Although I'm happy the kids will all be back together, room transitions can be challenging for both kids and parents. To ease the transitions among us, the moms are teaming up to ensure that I stay sane and that we do whatever we can to make the children's transition is a smooth one. Whether it's taking the extra time to acknowledge the kids at daycare encounters or responding to emails sent by a mom having a tough day, the daycare download works. It's also our way of getting the "scoop"; what's happening with daycare management, teachers, rooms, kids, everything that's involved in our children's lives while we're working. We have each other's backs and are willing to pitch in at a moment's notice. We share extra clothes, snacks and over the years - a LOT of diapers. Luckily, we never seem to run out of the same thing on the same day.

One day this week I saw two of the moms at drop off and one was having a really tough time. I didn't know all the details, but her frustration and concern showed on her face. Via text and voice mail, I later learned that she had to wipe a few tears on her way into work. I've been there too many times to count. And my mom friends have been there for me. Some days are - like they are for everyone - better than others, so having a network of mom friends with all the modern day ways to communicate: Twitter, Facebook, text, email and cell phones, makes it easy to stay connected.

I'm personally grateful for these conversational exchanges (in personal or otherwise) that calm shaky nerves and make it easier to juggle life's important things: work, family and on a good week - some personal time and space.

Daycare downloads are just moments of vents, questions, comments, and sometimes - critical information. My favorites are vents. You need them if you're going to hunker down and be productive at work. For example, sharing a moment we had with each other's children at drop off or pick up that the parent missed can make a mom's day. Any working mom knows that moments that make you laugh, help you worry less, and inevitably make your day better are precious. When it comes to being a working mom, having a network of trusted friends makes the journey that much sweeter.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Overheard in the sales bullpen

If you've ever worked with or managed a team of sales people, you know that putting a group of persuasive, talkative, competitive people in one room can get a little crazy. Our team here at The Saratogian is made up of 13 sales (& sales support) people - each as unique as the next. Add the fast pace of a multimedia company in hyper drive and you hear some crazy stuff:

Just for fun, here are a few things overheard in the last week or so...

"I got it!, I got it!"

"Sir, please calm down so I can help you"

"I didn't just hit that car, did I?" (yes, she did)

"Did he seriously just say that?"

"It's called a deadline for a reason"

"If they were only ALL that nice..."

"I'm just ducky, I'm barking like a cat"

"I NEEEED coffee"

"You've been mean all day"

"I can't find a paper!" (we've published a daily since 1855)

"You're killing me here"

"How's the North Country treating you?"

"You couldn't HANDLE my account list"

"Out of my way! Late ad coming through"

"Hot yoga tonight, anyone?"

"I just got asked to the prom!" (our intern, Rachel)

Labels: ,

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday morning crisis

It's a Monday morning nightmare. The bag that came home from school Friday afternoon had sat untouched all weekend. A busy weekend schedule of a baseball game, soccer practice, church, chores, etc. all led to the neglect. I held my breath as I opened his folder — CRUD! AN ENTIRE PACKET OF HOMEWORK!

The blame went back and forth.
Him: "Mom, you should have reminded me to look in my bag!"
Me: "But it's your responsibility; I can't remember all my stuff and your stuff, too!"

Then we moved into "resolve crisis" mode. Thankfully there was about 30 minutes before the bus was due to arrive, so he dove right in. Once I had him going, I just left him alone, figuring he would get done as much as he could, and that would have to be good enough.

He did alright, too. Not too much was left undone by the time we had to shove it in his backpack so he could run down the driveway. His 7-year-old sister gave him a little tip: "You can do the rest on the bus; that's what I do if I don't have my homework finished." To my surprise, he didn't tell her to shut-up, but instead said, "Yeah, that's what I'll do."

What a proud moment. Both my children — in second and fourth grades — are already mirroring the same insane habits I kept up throughout school because of a busy extra-curricular schedule. What have I done?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Road Warriors

I just finished watching the movie Up In The Air with George Clooney and Vera Farmiga as two road warriors who meet on-the-road and become romantically involved. The story line has a lot more to it, but you'll have to watch it yourself to get the gist. I liked the film a lot, for the record.

In the movie, George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is acknowledged mid-air as a "million mile flyer" and the youngest of seven people ever to receive the award and priveleges that go with it. I know I never came close to logging that many miles when I traveled for business, but at one point I was "up in the air" for about two weeks each month. As a mom of a then 2 1/2 year old, I found that I just couldn't keep up the pace and ultimately chose a local media position here at The Saratogian offering more time with my family over the national custom media gig. Motherhood and parenting: it's all about personal choices.

I have to admit that I do miss the travel a little bit. I'm one of those rare individuals who loves airports and happily embraces air travel along with the sea of endless people that comes along with it. I'm an extrovert and feel at home in just about any city or country. On my very last trip to Chicago (the home base of Vera Farmiga's character, Alex, in the movie), I was bumped up to first class both ways. The first leg I was given a first class seat due to the fact that the airline double booked my coach class seat. On the way home I credit my crafty salesmanship for the upgrade. I made friends with the counter clerk and after talking for some time asked if she could possibly upgrade my seat. Sales 101: you don't get what you don't ask for. For the record, flying first class is definitley the way you want to end (for now, at least) your life as a road warrior.

You learn things about yourself on the road. I realized that I have a love/hate relationship with Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Of all the times I've experienced delays, flight cancellations and hassles in general I've been stuck at O'Hare. That's the 'hate' part of the relationship. What I love about O'Hare is that there are at a minimum FOUR Starbucks stores in the airport. It doesn't matter which terminal I was in, Starbucks was always right there with me. Starbucks for me is a travel equalizer. No matter what's happening or where I'm going or why I'm stuck, I can always count on a grande non-fat, no-whip, two pump mocha to settle me down or keep me going, whichever is needed. Depending on my mood, they'll also happily make it hot or iced. With all that can and does go wrong on a business trip, Starbucks always showed me the love.

One time during a layover in Chicago, a colleague and I watch in amazement and then disgust as a flight attendant in a full on flop sweat dripped all over the Starbuck's condiment counter for what seemed like twenty minutes straight. Thankfully we'd already had our coffee. Another time, our team got stuck in Chicago overnight after attending quarterly meetings at our Phoenix office. After a failed attempt to get us all out that evening, our VP of client services managed the next best thing and returned with fresh boarding passes that promised the first flight out the next morning - or so we thought. We were thrilled and relieved until we realized one-by-one that the boarding passes read 9:00 PM instead of AM. After one of us nearly cried (she was pregnant after all) and another laughed nervously, we eventually got it all sorted out. A night at the Hilton, flight out on yet another airline in the morning and a town car ride from NYC back to Saratoga and we were home in time for dinner - albeit a day late.

These days my travel is thankfully limited to the occasional visit to our corporate headquarters in Yardley, PA or a car ride up or down the Northway to see prospects and clients with sales reps. I've come to realize that although I miss the fancy dinners and freshly sheeted hotel rooms, the most important miles logged are those spent running in the backyard with our son.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Seeking Balance

Just before the holidays, I decided it was time to get back to a regular yoga practice. Of all the exercise regimens I've had in my lifetime, yoga was the only one with real staying power. I took my first class in 1993 and never looked back. In fact, I found a studio in Atlanta the day they were hanging their sign out front. My friend Lindsay and I were students number one and two respectively. In 2000, I completed my first yoga teacher training and later went on to own a yoga studio. When I was pregnant with my son over a decade later, I took prenatal yoga right up until my due date. I can vividly remember that class trying to balance in tree pose with what I can only describe as a giant pregnant belly. What I didn't know then was that our son would arrive two VERY LONG weeks later.

After I received the 'all clear' to exercise post c-section, I began my daily yoga practice. In a matter of weeks I felt myself gaining strength, flexibility and balance. At the time my son was ten weeks old, I went back to work. Working full time with a baby (or any age child or children for that matter) is a challenge in both time and energy management. In my case, something had to give and that "something" was my yoga practice.

It took me more than three years to find my way back to a regular practice, but I'm happy I did. It has what I'm seeking - balance of body and mind, life and work. You get the idea.

So after four hours straight of sitting in meetings, I left the office and headed straight to Hot Yoga Saratoga for 90 minutes of heat, stretching and well, more work. I took a deep breath and followed our teacher Judy's careful instructions. This form of yoga is a quite challenging and tends to attract type-A personalities, which explains why I'm routinely surrounded in class by what I suspect are high performance athletes. While my post-yoga routine is to arrive home, shower, (work), watch Monsters vs. Aliens with our son, read books and head to bed, I picture some of these folks leaving yoga, running 20 miles, drinking a power shake (or eating a wholesome vegetarian meal) and then working on their novels or renovating their homes until dark. In truth, they're probably a lot more like me, and at least one of them has two kids, a husband and a business to run. Some still look like they could accomplish a home renovation after 90 minutes of intense yoga practice.

Tonight's practice was especially rewarding for me. After a day filled with meeting and talk of new product launches, website re-launches, and new and existing strategic partnerships, I was ready for some exercise that could meet me where I was. And Hot Yoga (also called Bikram yoga) did not disappoint. The same series of 26 poses or postures and two breathing exercises is practiced in every class so you can really get a sense of where you are. Although the balancing postures kicked my butt tonight, the really deep back bends felt amazing after sitting in a conference room for most of the day. And the intense heat - we practice at 105+ degrees - felt great today although some days I do want to leave the room screaming for fresh, cool air.

I left class feeling invincible and ready to face another day of more meetings and whatever challenges come my way. In fact, at this very moment I'm perfectly content basking in post-yoga bliss munching on popcorn. As I listen to my son call for me from the family room, I smile knowing it's family time now. It's about balance after all.

Labels: , , , ,

Crisis time management

I've got so many balls in the air right now, I just know they're about to start crashing to the floor. I'm on the gerbil wheel, but I can't make it go fast enough. The problem is — everything is a priority.

Though I just sent the May Spirit of Saratoga magazine to the printer last Monday, the June issue deadlines are creeping up. I just sent out a bunch of e-mails to writers with my usual apology: "Sorry for making your deadline so tight because I'm so far behind." I spent a while this morning calling clothing stores that carry men's clothing to see if they would participate in our fashion shoot for the next magazine, but I had no success. As much as the store managers want to, their corporate rules (they were chain stores) won't allow them to allow any unpurchased clothing out of the store. Bummer. So what's the next brilliant idea? The pressure of deadline looms, and I need time to think, be creative. It's such an oxymoron.

Of course, the magazine is just small portion of what I do. And working with reporters and other editors on planning for the daily paper drains major time out of every day. I'm a planner, so I enjoy that part of the job. Truth is though, with everything we have to respond to every day -- directing reporters and photographers here and there — and the hundreds of e-mails, dozens of phone calls, there is little time for actual editing. (That's not good for a control freak like me, and I do have to go home and be a mom, and wife, and housekeeper and cook, etc, etc.)

My routine at work has no real routine, as much as I've really tried for nearly four years. Each day's routine boils down to crisis time management. Each thing comes at me throughout the day, that's what I have to handle first. And in between the raindrops, I'm trying — without a lot of success — to look ahead or catch up, mostly the latter.

OK, gotta stop here so I can get to one of the hundreds of other things that need my attention ...

Labels: ,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Navigating the Pre-school Years

My brother married a terrific woman (who happens to be a friend and former co-worker - yay for me!) this past weekend at a private ceremony at their home. It was an intimate family gathering complete with a heartfelt ceremony, teary-eyed champagne toast and lots of belly laughs. My son was especially happy because it was the day that he was officially getting two new cousins. My new sister-in-law has two wonderful children, one nearly six and the other born within days of my son. If our kids getting along is a sign, I'd say our families have gelled quite nicely.

I scored a great outfit for our son at Target (see photo). A preppy little number which I accessorized with leather driving shoes and belt from the Gap. He looked adorable, if I say so myself (note: mom bias). Although he looked the part of a respectable wedding guest, he was quite frankly in 'rare form' that day.

At the moment that the ceremony was about to begin, he decided to wander off to the dining room. I followed him trying to round him up for the exchange of vows and found him admiring a single painting on the wall. "Mom, look at this beautiful painting", he said. I'd like to say he gets his love of artwork from his mother, but he most likely gets it from the character 'Olivia'. If you've read the series of books or seen the Noggin show, you know what I'm talking about. I decided to stay in the moment with him at let him linger in art appreciation before taking him by the hand into the formal living room. His attention span, you see, is equivalent to his age in minutes. In other words the judge had four whole minutes to engage my son. Let's just say, he lost him at two...

Our rather spirited son is going through what we call the "terrible threes". The photographer who is also a mom of two said that the "threes are the new twos" and "fours are the best". I have to admit it's been a tough year attempting to curb bad behavior while at the same time fostering good behavior. We've heard from teachers that our son didn't have his "listening ears on today" or he "couldn't keep his hands to himself" one day while getting reports like "he's very bright" or his vocabulary is "off the charts" for his age. What exactly do we do with this information? Are they saying we've got a smart brat?

At the wedding alone we heard everything from "he is so adorable" followed by "he's scaling the garage better get him." And, "is that champagne in his glass?" No (seriously?), it was apple juice.

Out of control. Very smart. As a parent you hope that the former is a passing phase and the latter is a testament to his intellect. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I'm choosing to focus on the fact that our son is happy, healthy, and cute enough to be a "Gap model" (also overheard at the wedding). The glass is half full, I always say.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How old is old enough?

Question: At what age is it OK to let my children get on the school bus by themselves?

My son is 10 1/2, and my daughter is almost 8, and though we live on kind of a rural yet busy road (speed limit supposedly 35 mph), it doesn't seem that dangerous for them to wait at the end of the driveway unsupervised for a few minutes.

Our driveway isn't that long, but we're set back enough that we can't see the bus coming from the previous stop a couple houses down. The bus comes at the same time every day, though, and we never go out more than 5 minutes ahead of time.

As part of their chores, the two of them take the garbage and recycling bins down to the road, and I definitely think they are old enough to be doing that. So what would be the big deal be for them to catch the bus in the morning without me standing there with them?

After they are both ready with lunches made and bags packed, I like to jump in the shower so I can get to work. Sometimes that's just a few minutes before the bus is set to arrive, and I'm left hurriedly getting dressed to run out the door with them with my sopping, wet hair. No one driving by or on the bus really needs to see that.

It just occured to me the other day that with my son in fourth grade, it probably isn't necessary to supervise this anymore. I'm not really sure what other parents do. I can only see one other stop from our house, and their mother is always out there. Their children are of a similar age, so that makes me think I'm supposed to be there, too.

The school district's Web site has a "frequently asked questions" list under the transportation department's heading, but the subject is not really addressed. However it does answer the question, "What is the transportation policy regarding children let off at the bus stop without a parent or guardian present?" It says, "Student grades 1-12 can be let off the bus at their stop without a parent/guardian present. Kindergarten students will not be let off the bus unless a parent/guardian, daycare provider or an older sibling is at the stop to meet them."
If children a re allowed to to get off the bus without a parent there to meet them, surely getting on is OK.

I just had this conversation with a few other adults in which people were weighing in on what they were allowed to do as kids, compared to what youngsters of the same age are or aren't allowed to do today. "We lived in Albany, and my mom would send us to the store several blocks away," one woman said. Others rode their bikes or walked to school a mile or two.

I know it's a different world than when I was growing up and we were allowed to roam all over the neighborhood. But we want to foster independence in our children, and we certainly don't want to breed fear.

It's not as if waiting for the bus with them makes me that much later for work, but giving them a little more freedom and responsibility doesn't seem like a bad idea.

Let me know your thoughts on this.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nap at work?

No, I didn't and no, I wouldn't. However, after a night like last night - I could have.

I've never been a great sleeper. So I can't really blame it on my child not being a good sleeper. Which he's not.

When I hear mothers (or fathers for that matter) talk about their child sleeping through the night at six days, six weeks, six months or SIX YEARS, I want to scream. My son has slept through the night less than a dozen times since his birth.

Last night it took FOREVER to get him to GO to sleep. One last book, one more video, another sip of water, then "I need to pee", "I need my snake", "I want the light on", and so on. As the numbers on the digital clock turned from 8:59 to 9:00 PM, I could (finally) hear the gentle snore of my son's slumber.

Then, at 11:00 o'clock he got into bed with us. At 1:20 he got up to pee and drink some more water. The poor little guy has a head cold and as we all know, it doesn't make for a very restful sleep - whatever your age. At 2:45 he kicked my head so hard it woke me up. Then my back. Then my husband's back. How many legs does this kid have?

I finally fell back asleep after weighing the pros and cons of buying a MUCH bigger bed...

I'm a morning person and always have been. It takes nothing for me to pop up at 5:00 in the morning to greet the day. This morning, however, when the alarm went off at 5:30 I noticed something. I was c-r-a-n-k-y! I showered and went downstairs heading straight for the coffee pot that I was so grateful I'd set up the night before. I NEED COFFEE, I thought. An hour, a few chores and two cups of Joe later I went upstairs. My husband was in the shower and my boy was just waking up.

"Mom, Cousin Vincent is coming to visit this week. Right?" "That's right", I yawned. "I'd like to bring my Tardis (we're fans of Doctor Who) to school today", followed by "I'd like some peanut butter on a granola bar for breakfast" and then "for my birthday this year I'd like to go fishing" and "please don't put your work clothes on cause I want you to stay in your comfy clothes".

My son's NOT a good sleeper and he IS a morning person. It took only a few seconds for the realization to set in: I was on the wrong side of the saying "the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree".

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 12, 2010

We're in the Spirit

Nearly three years ago, Betsy DeMars (fellow Media Mom) and I worked tirelessly to create and launch the monthly magazine, Spirit of Saratoga. Our collective vision along with that of Mike O'Sullivan, publisher and Barb Lombardo, managing editor, was to bring Saratogians a monthly publication that captured the essence of what it's like to live, work and play in Saratoga. The tagline "fine living in Saratoga and beyond" is the foundation for the people-centric magazine. So, with more than 30 issues under our belt, you'd think it would get a little routine.

But it certainly doesn't. This month's lineup is fresh and fun! The Mothers' Day feature spread chronicles one deserving mom's weekend of pampering, compliments of local businesses in our community. Betsy and her team just wrapped up the 2010 Golf Guide and a great piece on the new local Hot Yoga studio in Saratoga. When the owner, Cindy, came in to see Betsy, two enthusiastic members of my sales team who - like me - are hooked on the yoga practice, followed her to the newsroom.

So you see, it's not at all routine. I think that's what keeps us passionate about the magazine that will turn three this summer.

The bulk of my work on the magazine (leading the team responsible for selling ads in print and online) ends before Betsy and her team really get going. In the final moments of what we call "crunch time" though, we come together with 'one mind' to ensure the magazine is what we both envisioned some 90 days prior. Today alone I've talked with Betsy more than a dozen times. It's the little things that make a great issue and we're all about the details. Is every ad where it should be? Should we read the Mother's Day feature spread one more time? This month, like most, we ask ourselves if we need to take a walk up to Broadway, get some coffee, and create some space between us and 40+ pages of words, photos, ads, etc. The answer is a resounding YES! Not that we have time to, of course.

As we work to get the May issue "out the door" today, I'm reminded of how wonderful it is to be on the other side of the laborious task of publishing a magazine. As soon as the issue arrives at homes in print and online each month, the buzz starts. "The cover looks amazing", "my friends are calling from all over the country to congratulate me on the story you wrote", "The photograph spread really showcased my passion as an artist", and my personal favorite "I'm already getting calls from my ad."

As I take a break from this blog post to review ad placement with Betsy, I'm reminded that two weeks from now we'll see the fruit of our labor (mostly Betsy's). With an eye on the end game, we review the last minute touches needed for the two of us to feel proud of the monthly journey we share together with our fellow Saratogians.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, April 9, 2010

Being in the moment

On a recent school day morning, my son and I were enjoying coffee (mine), orange juice (his) and a granola bar (also his) while watching Ni Hao Kai-Lan on television. It's one of our morning rituals when we have time to spare which, as you can imagine, is not often.

A few minutes into the program, I noticed he was searching for something. Adding to the puzzled look on his face, he announced that his granola bar had, as he puts it, "gone missing."

We got up and moved the pillows and cushions around. Nothing. "Why don't you check under the couch"?, I asked. As he bent down to look, I burst out laughing. The granola bar (whole) was stuck to his back.

Laughing like hyenas, we fell on the floor. After finally making it back to the couch, he turned to me with a smile and handed me half of his granola bar. We sat side-by-side eating our respective halves, interupted only by the occassional giggle.

Silly moments like these are precious to me, especially when life gets busy (always) and my mind is racing with work-filled details. Being present in the moment is a wonderful place to be - and FREE - as well as being totally underrated in a world filled with Blackberrys, iPhones (and yes, I have both), Twitter and Facebook. Although I don't think I'll find another granola bar stuck to my son's PJs, I will welcome the reminder to savor the moments that I know will soon be fleeting memories.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How can I schedule exercise on this schedule?

Getting into a good exercise routine is tough with an already full schedule.

Looking to overcome the winter workout blahs, a coworker and I signed up for classes at Total Body Trifecta on Church Street in Saratoga Springs, just a few blocks from the office. I brought my workout clothes on Mondays with every intention of heading out to the 5:20 p.m. class. Then, almost without fail, 5:20 would creep up, and I would still be in the middle of 15 things that needed to be completed before going home. Sure, I could dash out for the hour and return — albeit all sweaty — to finish my work, but then I'd get home after 8 p.m. That was no good either.
So there my bag of exercise clothes and shoes sat under my desk, day after day. Too many fires to put out in the early evening in the newsroom — I just kept getting stuck at work. And the worse thing was each morning, I'd have the internal conversation, "Should I get up early and work out? Nah, I'm going to excercise class in the evening!"

I've resumed getting up early for a session with my Exercise TV On Demand. I'm hoping to get to classes at Trifecta, too (love ya Mary Ann!) And because I've committed to run a 5K in June, I've begun running again.

To put my husband at ease because he worries about me running on the road with music in my ears, I figured out a way to be home and run outdoors. I measured the perimeter of our property as a quarter-mile, so yesterday I did eight laps, my daughter joining me on her bike for a couple of them. When I was finished with lap No. 8, she had great news for me. Mom! You lost lost 8 pounds! Boy don't I wish ...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nothing routine about our mornings

Each morning as the alarm goes off, my mind floods with a seemingly endless to-do list for the day. A healthy portion of the list is work-related — set up photo shoots for the magazine, return the calls of all the PR flacks (sorry guys) from the previous day, find constructive assignments for three interns, work out next month's reporters schedule, figure out if we'll be digging for or shoveling out the day's news.

Then it hits me. I've got a mountain to climb before I can even get to any of those things. As independent as I think my nearly 8-year-old and 10-year-old should be at this point, it takes an inordinate amount of time to get them moving from one task to another in what seems like ought to be an easy routine.

It seems like every request — like "brush your teeth" — devolves into yelling. That's after the broken record routine. "Brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth.

"Seriously, brush your teeth, please."

It never fails that five minutes to go before the bus pulls up, I'm screaming my head off, hurling insults.

"For real, you can only find one shoe?!"

"What do you mean you decided you want to bring instead of buy lunch?!"

"You guys have the worst time perception of anyone I know!"

Not constructive, I know.

We dash out the door with the bus pulling up and they run to the end of the driveway and disappear up the bus steps. I'm left alone, standing there in the driveway, feeling empty, tears welling. I take a deep breath and turn to go inside. I've scaled the morning mountain. All the other stuff that lies ahead should be cake in comparison.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Drop off drama

On most days, I drop my son off at his pre-school/daycare. It's a ritual I treasure most of the time and on good days filled with hugs, kisses and waves, my day is off to a great start.

Nearly every week there is at least one instance (usually more) of what I call "drop off drama". Yesterday my son insisted that he bring his sand dollar to school with him (he calls it a starfish fossil).

"Home toys" aren't allowed at his school. Neither is candy. I know by careful observation, mom confessions and my own personal experience that there are times when you must pick your battles. Case in point, my husband travels internationally and on one occasion in an effort to get to the office by 8:00 AM for our weekly department head meeting, I gave my son a lollipop as a bribe to get him in the car. So sue me. As for yesterday, the starfish fossil was coming to school.

I packed the car with my son's backpack, my bag and purse, as my husband strapped our son into his car seat. We arrived at school and after coaxing him inside (it was a glorious morning), we walked to his classroom where I unloaded his backpack, set a place for him at the table with fresh fruit, cereal and water, folded his extra clothes in his cubby and put his sheet and blanket for nap time in the bin. He sat down without a fuss to eat, gave me a kiss and a hug, and waved goodbye. I smiled, told him I loved him and headed for the door. "One more kiss and a hug, mama", he said. I couldn't argue with that!

As I headed for the door, I heard "Where is my starfish fossil?" I honestly had no idea, but checked his backpack just in case. "You didn't bring it with you, sweetie", I said. "Yes I did, go home and get it!", he shouted. Tears ensued.

After several minutes of extra hugs, some bargaining (we'd play on his playground after school), and a few deep breaths, I was able to leave. I checked the rear view while backing out of the parking lot and noticed a small sand dollar on the seat next to my son's car seat. He did bring the fossil with him! I drove to work feeling a twinge of mommy guilt.

When I arrived home last night, my son and husband were in the driveway waiting for me. I got out of the car and told my little guy that I had a surprise for him in the back seat. We opened the door and he yelled "my starfish fossil!". All smiles (both of us), we headed out back to play.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, April 5, 2010

Child care and then some

School vacation — again. It's another week the kids have no obligations and I have more, like setting up (and paying for) child care and toting them from Milton to Wilton and back each day. Why choose a sitter a good 25 minutes away? As working moms know, finding someone with whom you are completely comfortable leaving your children all day can be stressful. Once you find that caretaker, you don't let them go — even if they live a bit farther away.

When we first moved to the area in 2003 so I could take a job as the news editor at The Saratogian, I sought out a sitter in the classified pages of the paper. We only needed someone for a couple hours a day for the time in between our shifts. My son was 3, and my daughter had just turned 1. Though I took many phone calls from interested folks, Michele was the first and ultimately the best.

After my son started school and I moved into a daytime gig, Michele and my daughter bonded in a big way, with just the two of them spending their days together. I have to admit a bit of jealousy over the fact the two of them seemed to have the most wonderful times, all while I was at work. But having worked throughout the years my children were small, I came to realize the value of our day care providers in my children's lives — especially Michele. She's taken them to doctor's appointments when I couldn't, taught them lessons in being respectful to adults they meet when they are out with her and given me plenty of good advice, as both her children are grown. She's become like a member of our extended family, someone who loves our children dearly. I'm so grateful for having someone like her in our lives.

Labels: ,

You want to be WHAT when you grow up?

I don't know of a single person in sales who answered the ever popular childhood question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" with salesperson. Fireman, ballerina, doctor, teacher - sure. Salesperson? Not a chance.

When I was really little I wanted to be a gym teacher. Why? Because I love sports and thought running around outside beat reading a book in class an day. Later, as I dutifully filled out college applications and requested references, I listed "math/management" as my preferred field of study. The reason? I had the greatest high school math teacher ever! Mr. Pidgeon was adept at making math fun and nudged me into the best math student I could possibly be. It was the first time I was consistently getting A's in math.

On completion of my freshman year in college, I was pretty sure that mathematician wasn't going to be my thing. I was going to be a lawyer. Yup, I was sure of it.

When senior year came around, we all got busy sending out resumes and cover letters. By this time, I had changed my major to Business Management with a concentration in marketing and minor in MIS. In a tough economy (not unlike this one) I was all over the map applying for jobs in advertising, publishing and marketing while simultaneously gearing up to take GMATs and LSATs. In addition to trying to land my first job, I was also applying to grad schools with joint MBA/JD degrees. I was hungry and wanted to be the first of my friends to land a job. I wasn't. But, I did have a job within weeks of graduation.

One of my part-time jobs in college was contacting alumni and convincing them to donate to their beloved alma mater. Although I often received bonuses for the highest numbers, one night I received the largest donation EVER from a single donor - $10,000. That "sale" came with a $100 bonus. As any college student or graduate can attest, $100 for a college student is serious money. The really big payoff was that the woman on the phone was coincidentally the human resource director at Crain's Chicago Business, a well respected business weekly in the windy city. She was so impressed with my "salesmanship" that she got me an interview with her counterpart at Crain's New York business in Manhattan. That one call (and subsequent interview) secured my first job out of college.

Looking back, even at that point, I had a whole history in the sales profession. In addition to dialing for alumni dollars, I had sold the most tumblers for my cheerleading squad and led sales for my girl scout troop's cookie drive. It never even occurred to me that sales was a career choice, nor that it would end up being mine for over twenty years' time.

I honestly believe that a career in sales chooses you. It seeks out extroverts and athletes, alike. It demands you take no for an answer (often) and then go on unscathed (albeit a few scratches) to pitch another day. If you have a taste for adventure (read: money) and love the "thrill of the chase", sales might be for you.

My son will turn four soon and I can't help but wonder what he'll be when he grows up. His answers to date have been doctor, chef and animal rescuer (Go, Diego, Go!). Only time will tell, I suppose. It's a lasting question that many people consider well into adulthood. I have quite a few 40+ friends looking to reinvent themselves at what is essentially the mid-point in their careers. If that sounds like you, you may consider asking yourself this question:

What do you want to be now that you ARE grown up?

Labels: , , ,

Friday, April 2, 2010

Planning for Easter, sort of

I remember last year scrambling out the door on the Friday before Easter, the task of getting the kids' basket goodies still ahead of me. Because we were leaving town the next morning to head to Connecticut for the holiday, this was my window for getting it done.

Where could I go that would be on the way home, open at 9 p.m. and have enough left at this point to fill two Easter baskets? My boss, who also was still at the office and has been in my harried shoes, suggested swinging into CVS — surely I could get a few meaningful trinkets, a couple of chocolate bunnies and some jelly beans there. And while things were picked over, I scored enough to make only the one stop so I could get home to pack.

It's not that I don't want to plan ahead and get things earlier, especially for Easter. As a Christian, this is a really special celebration. While Christmas is obviously special, too, the events of this day are what we center our beliefs on. I have wonderful childhood memories of outdoor sunrise services in our fresh-from-the-store Easter dresses, one of the few new items of clothing I remember getting. I get goosebumps every time we sing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" during an Easter service, and my mother and I exhange a knowing look and a smile.

So planning for Easter is not so much a matter of procrastination as it is that I'm constantly in the mode of crisis time management. This year, however, I am a whole day ahead of schedule. I went to Wal-Mart last night, and all the goodies are stowed away in the trunk, ready for their pilgrimage to my sister's house in Connecticut tomorrow.

OK, I just realized it's warming up rather quickly outside, and my planning could backfire if I don't go save the bunnies from melting into unrecognizable chocolate blobs in the trunk. Happy Easter everyone!

Labels: ,

Legacy sales reps need not apply

One of the most rewarding (and most challenging) things about my role as advertising director here at The Saratogian is building - and maintaining - a sales force. My 14 person team is charged with selling into numerous print publications (one daily, three weeklies and a monthly magazine),, and video in addition to Yahoo!, local expos, promotions and contests. The current team is one of the finest I've ever led or worked with, which brings me to my sad task at hand. One of them is leaving.

His name is Jarvis Idowu and he's taken a teaching position in South Korea. A once in a lifetime opportunity! While attending Skidmore College as a Philosophy major, Jarvis took a leave of absence to work on President Obama's campaign in Lima, Ohio. After graduation, he came straight to The Saratogian and spent most of last year learning the ropes in the new multimedia advertising sales environment. Jarvis doesn't remember a time when selling advertising for a local newspaper or magazine was a print game. He, unlike his more seasoned colleagues, has a high comfort level with the multimedia advertising platform and consultative sales strategy - one that requires an integrative (print, digital and video) approach to helping clients' businesses succeed. As Jarvis prepares to make his journey to South Korea, I begin my search for his replacement. Legacy (print only) sales reps need not apply. I'm looking for my next multimedia sales star!

-The silver lining? We've asked Jarvis to blog for us while he's teaching English at Chung Dham private school (South Korean equivalent to the Unites States' Kaplan program). Stay tuned for his adventures.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Feelin' the Magic

With only one day earmarked for our recent visit to the Magic Kingdom, we were determined to make it count. My husband drove to the park from our hotel and secured a decent spot in the 'Pluto' lot. Next, we hopped on the trolley head-to-toe in rain gear regalia ready to feel the magic of Disney. Hoping to arrive at the Castle gates without delay, we were disappointed when we pulled up to another parking lot where we'd need to wait for the monorail that would (eventually) take us to Mickey. Thankfully, riding the monorail was a HUGE hit with our boy!

The first sight of the castle gave me chills (and not because it was cold and rainy). My son - amazed! - looked at the gate with wide eyes and then back at my husband and me to make sure we saw it too. The magic IS real.

Having pals who have been to Disney on numerous occasions, we took their advice and went straight to Mickey's house for a photo with the main mouse. We noticed right away that the smart folks at Disney have a knack for hiding lines and distracting both children and parents.

At last it was our turn! Suddenly, my son wanted nothing to do with Mickey. Seriously?! After some coaxing (we waited in the line for nearly 40 minutes after all!), he agreed to step up as long as I held his hand. Mickey shook his hand and Minnie kissed him on the head. He liked Minnie a LOT (that's my boy).

From Main Street, U.S.A. to Adventureland to Frontierland then Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Mickey's Toontown and Tomorrowland - a great find for a boy obsessed with space travel, there's a lot to do and see at the Magic Kingdom.

We really liked the family-oriented rides and activities that we could all enjoy. We hiked the Swiss Family Tree House, hopped aboard a seriously cool space ship on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin ride, sailed on Donald's Boat complete with waterworks and survived the jokes told by our Jungle Cruise captain. Princesses were on the periphery and Pirates of the Caribbean took center stage for our four year old pirate. His Disney souvenirs? A "pointy sword", monogrammed leather pirate bracelet, and Captain Jack spy scope.

Feel the magic and plan your own Disney family adventure by visiting

Labels: , , , ,