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.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I used to be really good at that. I could dig out a document we suddenly needed from a months-old pile of papers as if I'd put it there yesterday. You know, the pile of important stuff that's waiting to be filed, but doesn't seem to make it into the filing cabinet for some reason. Sadly, I've got a few of those — on the computer desk, the dining room table, the kitchen counter. Whenever I need a document in one of those piles, I play a game of memory as to where it's been temporarily filed. And it used to work great. Apparently, though, I'm losing my touch — I can't remember anything anymore.
Today, before heading out to work, I needed to find my kids' report cards and their school pictures to turn in to Pop Warner as part of the organization's paperwork requirements before the kids can begin football or cheerleading. I went from pile to pile where I thought I would find each item, but only found my daughter's report card.
I was getting later and later for work as I dug through piles, files and drawers. Finally, while in the shower, an epiphany about the school photos' whereabouts: I brought them in a suitcase to Kansas last November to distribute them to relatives. Could they really still be in there, stowed in the front pocket of our large suitcase and stored in the attic for seven months? I went upstairs and dragged the thing out. Yep. Mystery solved.
So only my son's report card remained missing. I had to get out of the house, though, so I gathered everything else and got in the car. Then, another epiphany. I remembered my husband saying, when we were on a long car trip and he had discovered my son's report card under the seat, "I'm putting Matthew's report card in the glove box, just so you know."
I dug around in there, and bingo, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place.
So, on the one hand — success in finding everything I needed. But on the other hand — failure in being efficient wasted sooooooo much time. And I DO NOT have time to waste. I guess I need to replace my failing memory with a decent filing system, just as soon as I remember where I put those file folders I bought a few months ago.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Bittersweet family memories
Although us kids have (long since, in my case) graduated from college and have careers now, each and every one of us still feels the "pull" each July. Most of us make it to the Fair at least once each year. Some of us now have kids in tow. A trip to the fair isn't quite complete until we have our fill of food and family complete with the family recipe of steak and sausage sandwiches smothered in sauce "gravy", onions and peppers smells like nostalgia to our crew and brings back sacred memories of Fair's past. We've been there as a family for nearly 50 years, so just about all the annual fair-goers knew my Grandfather (my grandmother died too young) or - if not - one of us.
This particular Fair week has been bittersweet for us. Tina and Jim made it to the front page of the paper with pictures and a great story about our family tradition of serving our community one sandwich at a time each year at the Saratoga County Fair. One for the family scrapbook!
Unfortunately, though, a dear family friend (one of my dad's best) passed away after a year-long battle with cancer this week. Kenny and my dad had known each other all their lives and still met for breakfast most Fridays - even after all these years (Kenny being gone will be hardest on him). It's not just the timing that made this Fair week bittersweet, it's the fact that Kenny was one of the "faces" of the Fair. In addition to knowing just about everyone, his family lives at the top of across from the entrance and each year since I've been alive, Kenny, his wife Marlene and their kids would park cars and greet visitors. Our families would meet EVERY YEAR for as long as I can remember. If we didn't see each other often, we knew that at least we run into them during Fair week. And, just about everyone knew Kenny. He was a really great guy. In fact, my husband and I were just saying a week ago that we'd see him "next week". When I heard he passed away early Monday morning - just one day before the Fair began, I wondered if he'd just had enough of parking cars. But if you knew Kenny, you'd know that there wasn't anything he enjoyed quite as much.
I remember thinking that very same thing about my grandfather the first year the Fair came around after he was gone. He enjoyed cutting peppers and onions and stirring sauce the way Kenny loved parking cars. I see that same love of family, friends and community in my Uncle now. It's part of who we are, I suppose. My husband and I will be bringing our son to the Fair this weekend. He can't wait to see the cows, go on rides and see Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Tina!
With family as in life, you've got to take the bitter with the sweet.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Who mothers mom when she's sick?
I asked a co-worker to power down my laptop and forward my phones, while making sure she delivered my sincere apologies to folks in the office for potentially taking down my staff and fellow coworkers on what is essentially the busiest-week-before-the-busiest-week of our entire year. Saratoga Race Course opens in one week's time.
A trip to Rite Aid and I was home on my couch where I'd remain for most of the weekend. Friday was a blur of fever-fueled dreams interrupted only by my Blackberry buzzing. Saturday was no different except that I had all day to alternate sleeping on the couch and my bed. We were signed up to attend THREE kid birthday parties this weekend so I made arrangements for my parent's to bring my son to the party at NOON and my husband to take on the 4:00 PM party on Saturday. Thankfully, he fell asleep on the way home and slept through the night.
First thing Sunday morning, my son said upon waking "Are you feeling better, mama?" "Can you please play with me today?" The answer turned out to be "no". I did make it out to the pool for a short visit while my two boys played and swam. When it came time to go to party #3, I decided to ride along and sit on the sidelines watching the fun. Even that was exhausting.
Although "Team Rose" handled my illness logistically, there wasn't anyone to get me a drink of water, a cup of tea, a cool towel for my neck, or to walk upstairs to get my Tempur-Pedic pillow instead of the poly-filled couch variety. So, who mothers mom when she's sick? No one. I'm not so much complaining as sharing what every mother knows. We're (typically) the nurturers of the family - the warm & fuzzy glue. When warm & fuzzy turns feverish and sneezy, things get ugly and as the saying goes "when mama's not happy ain't nobody happy". I found myself longing for the caring touch of my own mother when I was sick as a child. She'd rub Vick's on my throat and chest and then wrap me up with a hot towel fresh from the dryer. "Thanks mom, I'd say".
Trying to avoid those 'icky' feelings
It hit me when I dropped by church this morning to drop off my Jello Jigglers for Adventure Camp (aka vacation Bible school). I could never in words describe how amazing this week is every year at Saratoga Abundant Life Church. About 100 volunteers put together 5 days of unbelievably creative fun for the kids, and I was sick this year about my children missing it.
When we planned their month-long visit with relative in Kansas, I went through all the things we typically do in July in my mind. I wouldn't be able to take my daughter to the New York City Ballet at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. (Took my husband; it wasn't the same.) My son wouldn't be able to run track through BARC's summer program. They'd miss their annual Kids for Christ summer campout. But most of all, they'd miss Adventure Camp.
I thought I'd grieved it then, but I guess the wound was reopened this morning. When I stopped to drop off my contribution to today's snack for the kids, the place was a mob scene. The children and parents lining up outside the door of the fellowship hall were all abuzz with excitement, anticipating the fun that awaited them on the other side.
I felt my insides twisting up — and it was icky. It felt like a gaping hole in my gut — part missing my kids and part missing out on the action.
So, I did what was necessary to feel better — I got in my car and drove away, vowing to avoid even driving by for the rest of the week. Super mature, I know. Also super impossible — I have to be there tomorrow night for a meeting. I'm going to have to get over it, I guess. I might have to swallow hard a few times while I'm there, but it'll be OK.
Labels: vacation Bible school
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Caught in a vacation state of mind
Somewhere amid the lazy drifting on the boat and reading on the deck of our cottage overlooking the lake and the vineyards across the way, I was caught off guard by my daughter's cheerleading coach.
Here I was, uber-relaxed, and she's going on about needing a team mom and asking if I would be willing to volunteer. Not being in my right mind about how busy we already are, I said OK. I thought, I'm pretty organized with stuff like that; it shouldn't be that difficult.
The committment didn't sink in right away. It waited until about 2 a.m. That's when the wheels started turning, and the reality of scheduling hit me. I'm very involved with my church's music ministry. That's Tuesdays and Sundays. Come the end of September, I'll reprise my role as adviser for the Skidmore College student newspaper. That takes another chunk of Sundays. And, of course, there's this pesky editor job at The Saratogian. As is well doumented in this blog, this job can be pretty demanding of time and comes with some unpredictability, too.
But, after sorting it all out in my mind, and recalling the excitement in my daughter's voice on the other end of the phone (still in Kansas with relatives), I came to the conclusion that this is something I can and will handle.
Apparently my 8-year-old daughter's mind was working overtime overnight, too. The next day on the phone, she expressed worry for my nutty schedule. "But Mom, you've got worship team and Skidmore and work!"
I couldn't believe this was coming from a kid. All I can say is she's my daughter and prone to overanalyzing stuff. "It will be fine," I told her. "We'll figure it out. I'm not worried about it."
Not too worried, anyway.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Simple summer recipes for the busy mom
Powerballs - I found this recipe in the September 2008 issue of Wondertime Magazine and have been making it on a regular basis since then. The article says "these wholesome little snacks are simple to make and rival cookie dough eaten right out of the bowl". Yes and yes. In fact, I've shared the recipe with friends and family and my mom, in particular, gets her own container every time my son and I make them. They're seriously good - regardless of your age! The recipe makes 48 powerballs, so there are always plenty to go around. http://wondertime.go.com/life-at-home/article/powerball-cookies.html Note: this recipe contains peanuts and peanut butters, for those with allergy concerns. Substitutions work just fine.
Fruit Kabobs - When my husband and I traveled to Japan last fall, we left a gift for the grandparent's to give him each day we were gone. One of those gifts was My First Cookbook, by Paula Deen. The book contains some really terrific recipes throughout as well as a great introduction to table setting and manners. Our current favorite is her recipe for Fruit Kabobs. What you'll need: wooden skewers, 1 pint of rip strawberries, rinsed and patten dry with the stems cut off, green and red grapes, and fresh pineapple, chunked (Paula recommends an 8-ounce can of pineapple chunks, but we prefer the fresh variety). My son loves alternating the pieces of fresh fruit onto the skewers. We have, on occasion, welcomed marshmallows into the rotation for a little extra sweetness. Be careful not to stick your fingers with the skewers - an art my son mastered only after several "ouches". We've enjoyed the finished fruit kabobs as dinner side dishes, snacks and packed them up for both pre-school and picnics. My son's not a "dipper" but a chocolate ganache would be a delicious improvisation on this recipe, if I do say so myself.
Fruit & Veggie Juice (or yogurt) Popsicles - I found popsicle forms at Target for this recipe project. They sell them at most major retailers, including Walmart and various sites online. My son's favorite pops are the ones made with V8 V-Fusion Pomegranate Blueberry juice containing 100% fruit AND veggies. What an inventive way to get kids to eat more vegetables. I'm thankful that my son actually likes vegetables in both cooked and raw forms since I know other moms aren't quite so lucky. Stonyfield Farms organic yogurt has some terrific flavors for the yogurt pops, using both the yogurt or the smoothies as the popsicle base. You can also chop up fresh fruit in small pieces and add those to the pops. Just fill, freeze and enjoy!The easiest (and most delicious) way to get your five fruits a day is by picking fruit right off the vine. We have four 30-year-old blueberry bushes (trees if you consider I've never pruned the things in the five years I've been living here) in our yard. Each summer since he was born, my son and I create new memories with our "blue pals". My son's favorite thing to do these days is go outside right when we get up in our "comfy clothes" to pick them. He prefers to eat his blueberries with "dew on them". When the grass is a still wet he'll let me pick him up to reach the high ones. Since I don't get to pick up my now four-year-old much anymore, these are such terrific moments for me.
My summers growing up were filled with family, fun and food. We camped, had cookouts, picnics, as well as a working a half-acre vegetable garden. I realize only now how precious those moments with my parents, siblings and friends are to me. Cherished memories. Now my son is collecting memories and I'm feeling good about sharing healthy eating practices in a way that's fun for all of us.
Friday, July 9, 2010
This is where my four year old lives when he's not swimming these days. Our night will likely begin with him cooking something interesting like "fish with kiwi fruit" in his kitchen. Dinner might bake in the pretend oven while we share a cup of hot tea with Buzz Lightyear in our son's creatively constructed "space center" (my husband and I are thinking of taking him to his first movie this weekend: Toy Story 3). We'll look out onto the airport and parking lot he's designed in our family room - complete with a bullet train from Japan that helps people get where they're going "super fast" and a wooden model of a limo he made so that "lots of people can ride together." This week's theme at pre-school was camping, so we've been building pretend fires at home with painted newspapers and construction paper where we roast marshmallows using my wooden skewers. I have to admit it's a lot of fun playing "make believe" after a long day of conference calls, emails, meetings and spreadsheets.
I'm consistently amazed at my son's ability to construct elaborate tales that fill his days with possibilities, wonder and amazement. His mind's a sponge, soaking up everything it can from his environment. From what he learns in school to quality time spent with mom, dad, grandparents, friends, neighbors and his favorite shows and movies - he's drinking in life.
As my four year old invites me daily into his world, it reminds me that each day is new and that the sky really IS the limit if you think (to use the tired phrase) "out of the box". Each day is what we make of it and sometimes it takes a child to point that out to you - with his pirate sword. He is Captain Jack Sparrow, after all.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Say hello to Wilderness Girl
My parents drove up Saturday, and even though I was supposed to be home packing for our little overnight trip, here I sat at work, still trying to get the August edition of our magazine to the printer.
I called my dad from the office, trying to explain the maddening process I was going through trying to send the completed files to the printing facility in Pennsylvania. "Well, were' just sitting on your back porch with a cold beverage," he said.
When the moment came that I was finally free of my computer nightmare and could start my July 4th weekend, I bee-lined for the house. Of course, I was only home briefly before heading out to the concert at SPAC.
I was only slightly tethered to my notebook during the concert, wanting to make sure I had adequate notes from which to write the review for The Saratogian. With my dad's help the next day, the writing came easy. While he and I worked at the computer, my husband took on the packing duties for our canoe trip.
That's where things took an unexpected turn. After I hit the send button to get my review to the newspaper, I hurriedly packed my clothes and jumped in the truck. I didn't really look at what he had packed. Somewhere along the way, however, I discovered he only brought our GIANT family tent instead of the little two-man jobber. Um, hello, we've got to get all our gear in the canoe!!
After many miles of back roads in the Adirondacks (I've never been that remote in my life), we arrived at Lake Lila to find a .3-mile carry down to the water. We looked at the 30-pound tent and looked at each other and said, "Forget it; we're sleeping under the stars."
It took only two trips to get the canoe and our gear down to the water. Same for my folks and their kayaks. Apparently while we were making our way back to the truck for our second load, a bear crossed the path behind us. We didn't see it, but the guys carrying their kayaks behind us did.
It was windy so the water was rough, but we managed to make our way across the lake and found a serene campsite. We pulled the canoe and kayaks up on shore and made camp by early evening. Dad made our supper — MREs(meals ready to eat), which have their own little heaters when you add water. They weren't bad, actually.
I gathered firewood from the woods, singing as I did it so Mom and Dad could hear that I hadn't been snatched up by a bear.
When it finally got dark, my parents crawled into their small tent, and my husband and I laid out sleeping bags by the fire. Because the mosquitoes were so bad, we had to sleep with sheets pulled over our heads.
I have to admit, we were awake almost as much as we were asleep. It was a long night. I tried to pretend we were actually in a tent whenever I got a little scared. And I tried to breathe really loud under the sheets, so I couldn't hear any noises from the woods.
Overall, it wasn't too bad. At times, when the bugs weren't invading, we could pull the sheets back and look up at the stars. I don't think I've ever seen them that bright.
For the record, Mom and Dad did offer to make room in their tent. But I'm glad we slept out; I am an official wilderness girl now.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Declaring my independence from "Super Mom Envy"
Friday, July 2, 2010