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, September 30, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Sometimes "tough love" is what mom needs
5 things I don't have time for
1. Removing a piece of paper tucked under the windshield wiper. Someone put a little green slip of paper under my windshield wiper while it was parked in my office parking lot downtown. I didn't see it until I was driving. As I zipped from place to place, picking kids up and dropping them off, I kept forgetting about the thing until I was in gear and it was flapping in the wind. This went on for two days.
2. Watering the hanging plant outside. I always think of it after I've left the house in the morning. I actually wasn't sure why the thing looked like crap at one point this summer. "It's not doing very well," I lemented to my mother-in-law, who had come to visit. "Um, I think it just needs water," she said, as nicely as possible to avoid making me feel like an idiot. She was right. And I tended to it enough to bring it back from near-death. However, I've only given it sporadic attention recently, and I can tell it's getting angry again.
3. Painting my fingernails. Flipping through the channels the other night, I paused on "Kate Plus 8" and noticed how glamourized Kate has become — the manicure, the hair, the whole works. (I know it's TV, but who takes their kids school shopping in high heels and a skirt?) Perhaps I should take the time to take care of myself in these ways, but in my world, nailpolish sinks to the bottom of the priority list. The only way I have time to touch up my toenails is to drive barefoot to work so they can dry.
4. Making a deposit at the bank. It's a good thing I can transfer funds from savings to checking with the click of a mouse so we can pay bills, gas up or go to the grocery store. I've been carrying a check I need to deposit in my purse for more than a week. This is why I believe direct deposit is the best thing since sliced bread.
5. Donating clothes the kids have outgrown. I've probably passed a dozen of those clothing donation boxes in my travels during the past couple weeks, but every time, I don't even have a minute to stop to open the trunk and stuff the garbage bag of too-small clothes we cleaned out from my daughter's drawers a while ago. So, in the trunk the bag will sit. At least it has the bags of bottles and cans I've been carting around for the past month in there to keep it company.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Change is good, right?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Judge if you will, but the homework is done
In the "not enough hours in the day" category, I arrived home around 10:30 p.m.(after working all day, running my daughter to cheer practice and attending a parent meeting there, going to my music ministry practice at church until 10 p.m. and narrowly escaping having to return to work to help the copy desk edit primary-related stories) to discover all the lights on in the house.
I walked in to find my husband and daughter asleep in the family room (TV and lights on) and my son upstairs playing a solo football game. "Um, what are you doing? Why aren't you in bed?"
"Well, Daddy ..."
Turns out, while most homework was done, without his father nagging him to finish a project that had been sent home to be completed ASAP, it has been abandoned and traded for a plastic purple football.
This was the only night he did not have Pop Warner football practice this week, and hence the only night he could really dig in and finish his "All About Me" poster for class. Glancing at the clock (LATE!), I made an executive decision. "Well, you're obviously wide awake. Put the ball away and get out that poster." With my husband out cold, I could get away with pushing bedtime in favor of getting the homework done, something he disagrees with. (Sorry, honey.)
So my son set up shop at the bar in the kitchen, and I talked him through the project while I emptied the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen. We both colored the poster once all the text was filled in. I watched him get very particular about every aspect, and he was clearly pleased when we stood back admiring the finished product.
It was nearly midnight when he crawled into bed (can't believe I'm admiting this bad mommy moment to the world). I told him I'd wake him at 8, and he'd only have 30 minutes to get ready. Eight hours isn't too bad, I thought.
I know getting enough sleep is important, but that poster is done, he's proud of it and no one has to stress about it anymore. Judge away ...
Friday, September 10, 2010
When your well literally runs dry
The timer beeped and I asked my dad to remove the hose from the pool. "Did you turn the water off? There's no water coming out?" Uh oh, I thought. I went inside and tried the sink faucet. Dry. Not even a drip. Our well was out of water.
After checking the pump in the basement and consulting my dad and my father-in-law, we decided that the best bet was to let the reservoir fill back up and replace the pump switch in the morning. Not many plumbing stores open on Labor Day.
The next morning we had water and I took a much needed shower. My father-in-law headed to Home Depot for parts and spent his morning fixing our pump switch. All was well. Have I mentioned how lucky we are to have two sets of parents close by? Luck-y.
After a full day of work for me and pre-school for my son, I headed to pick him up before closing time. I arrived and he shared the day's activities and an "excellent" status on his daily sheet, we laughed and hugged and headed to the car. I got him buckled in, got in turned the key and nothing happened. Not even a sound. Nothing. "You've GOT to be kidding me", I said out loud.
We went back inside the school so that I could get my son out of the heat and humidity, and I called my parents for help - again. They cheerfully arrived 20 minutes later to fetch their daughter and grandson, took us to the grocery store (since I hadn't been shopping in five days) and then home. Meanwhile, while my husband (who's now making calls from Chile) is talking with his dad about the car. His dad used to own a gas station and service center, so he's an invaluable resource when it comes to matters of this sort. The service station wouldn't be able to tow the car until the morning, so it would have to stay at daycare overnight. My son thought the whole ordeal was really "cool" for some reason.
The next morning my son and I head to school and work in our second car (we drove my husband to the airport for his trip over a week ago) and left the keys for my father-in-law. Unfortunately, he wasn't having any luck with the easy stuff - battery, etc. It was likely the starter which would require a tow and several hundred dollars.
My mother always said "things happen in threes". I, on the other hand, am just fine with two thank-you-very-much.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Top 10 things I loved about Santiago, Chile
2. Spring skiing in the Andes Mountains - We enjoyed one perfect day at Valle Nevado Resort that was totally worth enduring 61 switchback turns to reach the base at 10,000 feet. http://www.vallenevado.com/en/
3. Après-ski toast to my 40-something husband who "wowed" us with a classic "back scratcher" - Of course we took video. At middle age, it's important to prove you've still got it.
4. Chilean wine - We signed up for the half-day tour at Concha Y Toro Winery. With over a century of fine wine making, this family run winery was informative and the tastings were plentiful. We would have liked more time in the gift shop, but tour guides are funny about leaving people behind... http://www.conchaytoro.com/
5. Palm trees, pine trees and cactus growing side by side
6. Santiago's Los Dominicos Artist Market - nearly a hundred high-end (some cheesy souvenirs, too) creations of copper, wood, sheep's wool, Alpaca, Lapis lazuli semi-precious stones and more. Parrots sang from the tree tops while we strolled the market sipping cafe con leche.
7. View of the snow-capped Andes mountains from our room - you just can't beat a breathtaking view first thing in the morning.
8. Listening to the fast-paced song of the South American Spanish language
9. Empanadas - and the spicy tomato-onion-cilantro-cumin tapenade served with it.
10. Walking hand in hand with my husband around Santiago - the real reason a girl takes two red eye flights in three days...
Same old stuff, new school year
Sure, they both got a few new items of clothing, like socks and a couple of T-shirts. But they both had plenty of most necessities.
In previous years, new shoes have been a must after a summer of hard-core outdoor activity (in which their sneakers double as bike brakes). My son's seemed mostly intact, although we found some inexpensive back-ups at Target this weekend. This morning, however, the shoebox was nowhere to be found. I checked the receipt, and indeed, we paid for them. Somehow, they did not make it home from the store. Yeah, like I have time for that kind of mix-up. No matter to my son, who really just wanted to wear his old Vans anyway.
My daughter, whom I assumed would wear the nearly new Sketchers handed down from her cousin, instead opted for some beat-up old sneaks that I didn't know still fit her. "What are you wearing those for?" I asked. "It looks like you're going out to mow the lawn." Which was a weird thing to say because my daughter has never mowed the lawn. Isn't that where all old sneakers get relegated to, though?
"But Mom, these (the newish Sketchers) look weird with my "Tuesday" socks!" (She just got new socks with the days of the week on them.)
And off they both went to the bus stop with raggity shoes. It didn't matter to me, either. It made me think of something my sister said when we were camping two weeks ago. Her boys were covered in your basic layer of camping scuz, and she said, "It's funny, a couple years ago I would have been scrubbing their feet before they got in the tent, and now I don't even care if they sleep in their clothes." So true, how over the years you abandon the stuff that wasn't really worth stressing out about in the first place.
Being all shiny and new today didn't seem to phase my kids. And even without new shoes, they were both happy and eager to start their new school year, so it seems they were still getting off on the right foot.
Monday, September 6, 2010
End of the summer travel adventure for this working mom
My husband's global business travel determines the locale of our adventures, but the rest is up to us. We enjoy these spontaneous trips and maximize our time together exploring what's special about each country we visit. This past weekend's trip to Santiago was tacked onto a long weekend and only one vacation day was burned. This is important to me since I work for a multi-platform media company that puts out a new product each minute, hour, day. I only receive two weeks of vacation per year, so strategic planning is key. In fact, all three trips were enjoyed in less than 3 days and four nights. Now that I think of it, Santiago was two nights and three days bookended by red eye flights out of Atlanta. Seriously? I'm amazed at all we experienced (see blog post part II).
You might be thinking I'm down right nuts to travel such distances for such a short period of time, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Even when I traveled for business, I'd sacrifice myself for the greater good of "family time". My trips looked something like this: wake up at 3:15 AM, drive to the Albany airport to catch the 5:50 AM to Detroit, connect to Milwaukee, drive an hour or two to said appointment, meet for one or two hours, drive back to airport, connect in Chicago, arrive in Albany airport at 11:55 PM and home and in bed before 1:00 AM. Get up at 6:00 AM the next morning... You get the idea. Leaving my son with grandparents for three or four days is my personal "comfort zone", so I tough it out to take advantage of once in a lifetime (more, I hope) adventures.
Traveling internationally is nothing new for me. My whole adult life I've been accused of having "wanderlust" or being an "adventure addict" by my family and friends. I've been traveling internationally since I was 19. When I announced to my college roommates after seeing a commercial on TV for a $99 flight to Brussels, Belgium that I would be "taking the bus into Syracuse tomorrow morning to get my passport", there was laughter all around. When I showed up in our suite with both a passport and plane ticket in hand two weeks later, they weren't laughing.
I was bold. I was an inspiration. I was out of my mind?
My family took a while to get on board as well, but friends and family alike accept that traveling is just a part of who I am. My husband, thankfully, is no different and I suspect our son will follow suit. We're currently planning a family trip to Ireland next summer.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Working mom time management madness
This past weekend I took my time management skills to the street. I started jogging or more accurately "slogging" - slow jogging - recently and needed a good pair of shoes to support my return to running.
On Saturday afternoon, the family headed to Dicks Sporting Goods to see what they had in the way of running shoes. My husband also needed a pair of hiking boots for a business trip to Santiago, Chile, so it was a dual purpose trip (of course). I immediately honed in on the Reebok RunTone shoes. With easy web access from my iPhone, I quickly learned the Reebok website claimed these shoes "Tone Key Leg Muscles & Increase Endurance". Intriguing, I thought. Could this be the perfect shoe for this multi-tasker who likes the idea of combining cardio with high tech muscle toning?
Time to check the reviews! The gist from several reviewers was "The moving air pods in the sole and heel of the Reebok RunTone shoes create a bit of instability with each step. It is like using a balance disk, but with far less of the unstable feel. This slight instability helps activate more muscles with each step, which may result in more toning of the leg and buttock muscles and may help tone core muscles as well". The promise of "may result...may help" was good enough for me, so I headed home with my new "super sneakers".
I've got to say, these shoes are r-e-a-l-l-y comfortable to walk in. Although I haven't taken a proper run "slog" in them yet, I have pulled my son around the neighborhood in his wagon twice and really felt my muscles burning. Combining two workouts in one, is it really possible? For a mom who has little time to herself for exercise in general, I like the idea of a shoe that maximizes my time and muscle tone.
If you happen to see me out on the road struggling to hold my self vertical, just remember that there's one less color-coded action item on my outlook calendar.