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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It took a little heat to make our pool "cool"

Our 30-year-old home came with a pool and in the nearly six years we've lived in the house, we've only been in the pool a dozen times. This sounds a bit insane, I know, but the pool is located under a canopy of trees and it never gets much warmer than 75 degrees. It's not at all relaxing or refreshing, it's just really cold.

Two years ago, we decided we'd purchase a new liner and this year we were facing the facts: if we were ever going to use this pool, we were going to have to heat it. So we did some research online and ultimately decided on a state-of-the-art heater by Hayward. On top of buying the heater, there's the install which we did ourselves (my husband, his dad and brother-in-law) as well as buying or renting a propane tank which we chose to rent from Galway Co-op.

This past weekend was the first time outside of last weekend's kid pool party that we truly enjoyed the pool as a family. At a toasty 88 degrees our pool is down right pleasant. We floated, swam and I even did a few fancy dives off the board. It had been a while, but it's one of those things like riding a bike. They weren't world class dives, but my young son was pretty impressed. Heck, he can't even swim yet. Or, so I thought...

Our son started out the season a bit timid and unsure of his abilities which is not such a bad thing when you're attempting to teach swimming and pool safety all at once. He clung to me and my husband and kept a close eye on the steps in the shallow end. But as Saturday turned to Sunday evening something "clicked" for him. With just his Aqua Jogger Junior on he began to move around the pool without a float or noodle as a safety net. Then came the sudden realization that he was actually swimming for the first time! "I'm swimming, daddy". "Look mommy, I'm s-w-i-m-m-i-n-g!". It was wonderful to see his confidence emerge. He listened intently to my instructions "use your scoops", "kick your feet" and "keep your chin up". My husband passed on key safety rules from the basics like "no running" to more complex concepts like "Yell H-E-L-P if you feel unsafe" and stay in the shallow end "near the house".

With the progress he made in one weekend, we're hopeful we'll have a little swimmer by the end of the summer. And my husband and I both commented that for the first time since we've lived here the pool was fun for us, too, as we took turns on our new "noodle chair" and other adult-sized floats.

Ah, summertime - which those of us who live here in Upstate New York know is made up of fleeting moments sandwiched between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The smart ones among us make these moments count. I've learned that when you're not freezing your butt off, it's easy to look smart.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

An eerily empty house

My husband and I returned Sunday evening from our half-way-point rendevous with his brother in Ohio and sent our kids with him to visit relatives in Kansas. The ride home was soooooo quiet.

The same goes for the house this morning. I was sort of lost without two other people to get out the door. No lunches to pack, except for grabbing my Lean Cuisine and fork. No one to harrass about getting dressed or brushing teeth or combing hair. Only one breakfast to fix. No fight over the remote to the kitchen TV. Just me and my coffee and the Today show.

It's a strange feeling. It's part calm and relaxation. But it's also an eerie emptiness. When you are so used to taking care of other people in the house, it's hard to know what to do in their absence. When we got home last night at about 8 p.m., I cleaned the bathroom and did some other piddly neatening tasks.

I actually thought I'd feel more free and less weird about the children being away. But I suppose it's early in the game. I do want to embrace this month-long opportunity for us to just be a couple and use the time to focus on myself a bit. Tomorrow I'm going for a run in the morning to celebrate this new ability to leave the house by myself!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The gift of hand-me-downs

I've got to admit that I was utterly shocked at my son's reaction to two bags of hand-me-downs he received this month. One from his cousin and another from an older pal he idolizes. His reaction? Shear bliss!

Being first born, I personally never received any hand-me-downs. What I heard growing up from siblings and friends was not in line with my son's current state of perpetual happiness. The general consensus was "this sucks".

Is this an only child thing, I wondered? Because my kid's over the moon! Monday he wore pajama shorts that he insisted were "real shorts". Tuesday he sported a short-shirt combo that could only be described as "clashing". On Wednesday he bragged to his friends about the cool hole in the John Deere tee his cousin gave him. "The air comes right through it, mom", he said. Today as we were just about to leave the house, he stepped right out of his "regular" shorts and ran upstairs to the hand-me-down bag to find a "new" pair of shorts. I'm happy to say that today's outfit almost matches.

In the spirit of giving, I've been happy to pass along most my son's outgrown clothes to the children of friends and colleagues and always felt so good when I received glowing "thank you's". It really is such a great feeling to not have to shell out big bucks for clothes and gear that won't fit three months from now.

In addition to sharing clothing and kid gear with family and friends, there are several clothing swaps and consignment sales and shops here in the Saratoga area you should absolutely check out. Here are a few:

Treasures Thrift Shop
60 West Ave, Saratoga Springs
a service of Saratoga Hospital

Pixie's Closet
2124 Doubleday Avenue, Ballston Spa

Cuddle Bugs Consigment Boutique
455 Maple Avenue (Route 9), Saratoga Springs

100 Saratoga Village Blvd., Suite 3, Ballston Spa

Saratoga County Fairgrounds' Consignment Sale of Children's Items
is scheduled for October 3 - 10 2010

The semi-annual Katrina Trask Nursery School's next consignment sale will be help this fall

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Let the packing begin

We managed to get out the door to make the school bus this morning for the last time this school year. We were still wrapping their little teacher gifts 10 minutes before, so thankfully I got away without making lunches, as they have a picnic at their after-school program today. Now, the clock is ticking on the kids' departure to Grandma and Grandpa's this weekend.

I've been doing laundry all week (aka washing, drying and making a huge pile in the living room) so we'll be able to pack Friday night. When I told the kids I would need their help packing their bags for their month-long stay, my son said: "Yeah, I'm probably not going to bring much, cuz I'm just gonna be fishing most of the time anyway."

I raised my eyebrows. "OK, so you're not going to be wearing clothes while you're fishing?"

These kids are such polar opposites on this whole packing thing. He'll probably put his swimshorts and his Yankees cap in a bag and say he's done, but my 8-year-old daughter said this morning, "I think I'm just gonna take all my clothes to Kansas." She has even taken her soap out of the shower to take with her!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

What ever will we do without the kids here?

People keep asking me if I'm going to miss my kids when they leave to spend most of July with relatives in Kansas. Well, yes, I'm sure my husband and I will have moments when it will seem way too quiet in the house.

Let's be honest, though. If you knew your children were going to be well cared for and having a blast, and you had made plans to take some fun "couple" outings in their absence — for the first time in nearly 11 years — would you be focusing on how much you were going to miss them?

For all the joy our children bring us — the excitement of watching my son reel in his first rock bass or my daughter perfecting the art of hula-hooping — every day brings a new challenge with them, too. Teaching, caring for, disciplining, etc., etc. — parenting is exhausting. So, in the interest of spreading that joy they bring us, why wouldn't we give Grandma and Grandpa (and aunts, uncles and cousins) an opportunity to spend some time with those lovely children of ours?

When my husband and I are sitting quietly on the back deck overlooking Keuka Lake during our mini-vacation in a few weeks, we'll probably be nearly in tears, missing the two of them arguing over who gets to sit where or how dumb the other one is.

It's getting difficult for me to not turn this post into complete saracsm.

But seriously, there's a little mix of feeling giddy and anxious about their departure this coming weekend. We're meeting my brother-in-law at the halfway point close to the border of Ohio and Indiana Saturday night and then going our separate ways Sunday morning. I'll probably cry a little.

An hour later, though, as the two of us drive toward kidless freedom
for the next few weeks, I think I'll get over it.

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This party had to rock(et)

When I asked my son what kind of party he wanted for his birthday, he looked at me in a way that could only mean "that's a dumb question, mom". He wanted a rocket party, of course. I said "sure, honey" and then asked myself the bigger question. What on earth is a "rocket" party? Without anything in mind, the planning began.

I went online and typed "rocket-themed kid party". Site after site of how to plan, buy and decorate for such a party lined up on Google for my viewing pleasure. Unfortunately, most of the instructions and suggestions I wouldn't follow. Why? What working mom has the time to plan out rocket-themed games, make homemade pinatas, and shape and decorate a four layer rocket cake? OK, there are a few moms that work out there who could pull that off, but I knew I wasn't one of them. So, here's what I did:

1. Ordered cool rocket plates, cups, napkins and a "build your own solar system with stickers" party favor on
2. Walked over to the Bread Basket bakery for help with rocket-themed cupcakes for the kid party and a two layer cake for the family party. Only a crazy over-planner like me would have two parties in the same day. With Sunday being Father's Day, what choice did I really have? That's what I told myself anyway...
3. Bought a boatload of old fashioned bomb pops for the kids. It was a pool party and I figured they'd be a hit. Not the low sugar, no food coloring kind. The yummy pops we grew up eating poolside and at picnics.
4. Went to G. Willikers for a Stomp Rocket then visited every-other-day for a week straight to stock up on rocket toys, Silly Bandz, and space books for the goodie bags (the RSVPs kept coming in...)

The preparations continued as three co-worker friends also pitched in - one helped me decide which image of a rocket I should use on the invitations, one shared her lunch hour helping me fill goodie bags and another took it upon herself to create a rocket "craft" after work one night for the party - complete with hand cut-out rockets for tracing. Folks, when you're a working mom you never say "no, thank you" to extra help (If you do, stop it right now!). I'm so fortunate to work and live in one great town with great people.

Saturday morning came and my husband, son and I got busy running errands (me), cleaning the pool (my husband) and playing with everything we put out for the party (my son - and occasionally, me). We had balloons on the mailbox and the yard was looking pretty darn good after my husband took days off to mow, blow, and weed whack since the previous weekend rained NON STOP for three days. We coaxed our son into "resting" (napping was out of the question - the kid was waaaay too excited), while we brought out snacks, filled coolers with drinks of all kinds and blew up pool floats and filled water balloons. I kid you not I hadn't been this excited since my own kid parties a million years ago.

Guests arrived (I invited all my son's school pals) and were drawn immediately to the main attraction. It was nearly 90 degrees and we had a pool! My son smiled from ear to ear as his friends arrived saying things like "Mom, did you see that GIGANTIC pool?", "Mom, Kenneth has a pooooool!". Our pool is pretty basic and frankly rather old, but to kids it's got the stuff amusement parks deliver. It's magical.

So the day was spent laughing and splashing. There were cupcakes and bomb pops in the hands of children AND adults. As my son ate his rocket cupcake and opened his gifts I could see that he was truly having the time of his life (I have the pictures to prove it).

Adding "party planning" to my already fragile attempt at work-life balance made for a crazy couple of weeks, but moments like these make it all worthwhile. My son was happy and my husband and I were thrilled to have made the moment and memory possible. It was official: this party most definitely rocked.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Let's play "Where is Mommy's BlackBerry?"

When I got to work yesterday, I realized that my BlackBerry was missing. I immediately thought "Oh shoot, I left it at home". Since I didn't have time to go back home to get it (meetings galore), I decided I could live without it for one day.

So after attending a dinner with colleagues last night, I came home only to find out that my BlackBerry wasn't there. So, where was it? Ugh. I'd already riffled through my purse and office during the day, so it must be somewhere in the house or car, I thought. I went to bed determined to find it in the morning.

Slightly panicked and one good cup of coffee later, I began my search for the missing BlackBerry. After an hour of looking everywhere, I decided I'd ask our four year old if he'd seen it. Maybe he'll be helpful, I hoped. "I've seen it somewhere, mom", he replied. "Can you remember where, honey?", I asked. "No", he shrugged.

As we're hustling out the door for school and work, I put my son's yogurt and fresh fruit into his backpack and notice something at the bottom of the backpack.

Could it be? "It's my BlackBerry!", I screamed. "I told you I saw it, mom", my son said with a smile...

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Paris musings

Although it seems a bit like a distant memory, it's only been a week since we returned from Paris. Here are some of the observations that stuck with me:

The first thing I noticed about Parisians was the return of a retro fashion trend. Hold on to your hats late 70s/early 80s fans, the white lace up canvas (and leather) sneaker is b-a-a-a-c-k.

Both women AND men wear Capri pants. Let's pray that one doesn't take hold here in America.

An iPad is a conversation starter in any language. Excuse me, do you speak Apple?

Carbs are no match for the French. French people aren't fat. They eat, they drink, but they walk. Everywhere.

It's OK to sit at a cafe for several hours. No cares, no agenda, no server staring you down willing you to leave already. Just good conversation and people watching. Life in Paris doesn't suck.

The rest of the world is not a debit card society.

Smoking is culturally significant. As is espresso.

Your stiletto Banana Republic heels are stylish walking five blocks in Saratoga. The same pair walking ten blocks in Paris - ridiculous. Oh, that's why I've noticed that French women don't wear heels. Hello, ballet flats.

The Eiffel Tower is outstanding at night. All lit up, it's breathtaking. I visited the Eiffel Tower in 1986 & 87 during the day as a student. Just not comparable to the night time display. Or, am I just experiencing the Eiffel Tower for the first time as an adult?

Walking the Champs Elysees on a picture perfect sunny day - not a cloud in the sky - is dangerous. We stumbled upon the Hermes store a short block off the fashion thoroughfare. By stumbled upon, I mean I was determined to find it. For the record, I've spent the last decade dreaming about the day I'd replace my Hermes scarf which was lost (OK, stolen by an ex who figured out I loved IT more than him in the end). Needless to say I was both nervous and outright giddy when I entered the inner sanctum that is Hermes. We're talking the Paris boutique people, not the store in NYC. I narrowed my selection to two scarves, then I let my husband weigh in on my choice. This isn't his decade long dream, but he's sharing the moment (and the expense). Once we both agreed that the turquoise blue and purple scarf "looked like me", I sent him back outside. I knew he didn't have the stomach for what came next...

As I shelled out some serious cash to right a wrong from long ago, I peeked out at my husband who was (for the most part) more than happy to share in my quest. We had three romantic days in Paris and I couldn't be happier, I had a super guy by my side. So what if the checkbook is lighter and my waste line is thicker. Was it worth it? Totally. I mean, it's Paris.

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Sleepover success

Anyone who has ever worked at daily newspaper knows that Fridays are the most challenging of the week. If you are scheduled to work Monday through Friday at a newspaper, Fridays are a doozy, as preparing for Saturday, Sunday and Monday papers must be done before cutting loose for the weekend.

Despite that, we invited four of my daughter's friends over for a sleepover this past Friday evening. I figured I'd get everything done for Saturday's paper at the very least and return Saturday to finish up. I planned to leave at 5 p.m. (like most normal people), pick up my children, pick up pizza and a movie and get to the house at least 15 minutes before people were scheduled to arrive (6:30).

Per usual, my 5 p.m. departure turned into 5:30, and the mad dash was on. Thankfully, my husband was enroute to the house, so he could be there if people arrived early. And I was glad we was, because I cut it a little close, and two people were already there.

After that, most every aspect of the night was smooth sailing and had all the ingredients of the quintessential girly sleepover. They all jumped on the trampoline and played outside til dark, only coming in for pizza and to decorate cupcakes (which they didn't end up eating because they had piled so much frosting, sprinkles and candy on them, they were gross). We painted fingernails and watched a movie, "Alice in Wonderland."

My son wanted to be included in everything, too, even the nailpolishing session. The girls officially dubbed him "Jessica," allowing him to be one of the girls. Up until the actual sleeping part, he fully participated in all the girly activities, despite my husband trying to coax him out to my his workshop.

Except for one girl deciding it was time to go home (her first try at an overnight) during the movie at about 10 p.m., everything worked out as planned. Perhaps that's because we didn't overplan it. After pancakes in the morning, they all played in the basement together until their parents arrived.

The whole event was very low key, actually. Well, as low key as a house full of five little girls (plus "Jessica") could possibly be.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spa day? Not exactly.

It's 11:10AM and I'm officially running late for my appointment down the street. I rush out of my office and less than a minute's drive down Lake Avenue, I'm greeted by the soothing scent of aromatherapy and the kind and gentle Patty letting me know that they're "ready for me now".

I dip my hands into the paraffin wax and then warm mitts, slide into the reclining massage chair as Trish adjusts my warm aromatherapy neck wrap into place. One deep breath later and I'm ready for...

A dental cleaning. Yeah, you heard me right. When you're most relaxed at your semi-annual cleanings, you know the place MUST be doing something right. What makes this place so special? It's not so much the place (although it's beautiful - in fact, a quaint little east side Saratoga home now used commercially), but the people. In the five years or so that I've been going to Saratoga Smiles, I haven't had a negative experience. The care and comfort is a real plus for someone like me who used to get really anxious about going to the dentist. The staff puts you at ease and the massage chair and neck wrap bring the whole pampering experience home. This is customer service at it's best, my friends.

As a person who's been in sales and customer service for more than twenty years, the businesses that get it right really stand out. I'm pretty picky and my expectations (for myself included) are pretty darn high. Saratoga Smiles delivers...with a - you guessed it - smile.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Making her day made my day

Somehow I successfully pulled off a mid-week birthday that pleased my 8-year-old daughter. (See previous post for the prequel on this one.)

The morning of her birthday started off with a surprise from my husband that we needed to get the transmission on our truck serviced — that day. That meant getting the kids up early and driving two vehicles over to the service garage at about 6:15 a.m.

Early, yes, but even by that time, I was in full Supermom birthday mode. My daughter requested "those little bluberry muffins" to bring in to her classmates, and it turned out we were right by Hannaford dropping off the truck. So easy! That's what I was thinking all the way to the front door of the store, when ... what? They don't open til 7 a.m.! Crud.

OK, Plan B. We would just get ready early and head back to the store for the goodies, and then I would drive the kids to school. Good plan, if "ready early" exists in your family's vocabulary. For the DeMars clan, it's non-existant. So we scambled as usual to catch the bus, and I called out to my daughter as she booked down the driveway, "I'll just drop your goodies off at school in a little while!" That would be known as Plan C.

Thankfully, I did not have to get any further into the alphabet and got the little muffins dropped off on my -- sort of -- way to work.

I managed to run out of the office with about 7 minutes to spare and bee-lined for the cupacake shop across the street. Yes, working at The Saratogian is great for location. So many things are in walking (or sprinting) distance. I got the prettiest pink cupcake they had, and another couple smaller ones for my son and husband and took off for the soccer field for my daughter's soccer practice.

It was soooo hot that evening; everyone was sweltering. So, I dashed over to the grocery store and grabbed some popcicles for the team in honor of my daughter's birthday. I had already thought of doing it, but the heat made the sweaty bunch that much more appreciative of the cool treats.

When we got home, my daughter crawled into the driver's seat of the car with me and gave me a tight squeeze. "You did EVERYTHING for my birthday. You're the best Mom in the world."

I've filed that away in my memory banks for all the times she hates me in the future. Seriously though, making her happy on her special day meant the world.

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