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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

One and only

My sister and I spent last weekend in Atlanta together reminiscing about the years we both spent living there in the 90s. Good times, I assure you. This particular trip down memory lane included swaying to Irish music at Limerick Junction, toasting to good times at Moe's & Joe's, sipping mochas at Aurora Coffee and talking non-stop at Murphy's - home to Atlanta's best cheese grits (in our opinion anyway). It was an amazing trip, in part, because it was the first time in a long time that we had time together by ourselves.

These days we mostly see each other at holiday gatherings - always with kids in tow. Add in the fact that I live in New York and she lives in the Louisville, Kentucky area, and you'll quickly see it's nearly impossible to find time for just the two of us. My sister's milestone birthday served as a catalyst for some much needed sister time! It's hard to believe that there was a time in our 20s and 30s when we spent days on end together...

Although we spent last weekend sans-kids, we did talk about our boys quite a bit. Although my sister had a five year head start on me, we both delivered healthy boys and have shared the journey of parenting an only child ever since. Since we grew up in family of five where I'm the oldest, my sister is the youngest and we have a brother in between, it's hard for either of us to imagine what it's like for our boys. Will they feel lonely as an only? Do we spoil them and dote more than we would with multiples?

For the most part, we don't spend time dwelling (time? who has time?) on these questions. We're too busy actually raising our onlies. Thankfully we agree that the joys far outweigh any negative preconceptions society holds about "only children". You know, they're typcially "spoiled brats"? Not that our boys don't have both "spoiled" and "bratty" moments, it's just that it doesn't define them. My sister and I are happy moms of boys who adore each other and just happen to be only children. They're cousins after all, and to them that's just about the coolest thing ever.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sometimes "tough love" is what mom needs

I spent the last six weeks of summer watching a fellow working mom friend become progressively more fit and more toned by the day. I'd see her in line at Starbucks or at daycare drop offs and think "Wow, she really looks terrific. I wonder what she's doing..." To be honest, I didn't so much wonder as run right up to her and say "what EXACTLY are you doing to get so fit and trim? I need it and I need it now!" Although she told me (repeatedly, I might add) that it was Jillian Michaels' 30 day Shred DVD program, I didn't get started. Not right away anyway. I think part of me wanted to see if she'd stick with it. With the last 10 pounds of baby weight (yeah, I know my kid is four) at stake, I wasn't about to waste time - and energy - on something that didn't work.

So two weeks ago on a Friday afternoon, another friend who also wanted to make positive and lasting changes in her health and I went in search for the DVD in question. Step 1: purchase DVD. Done. Step 2: Play DVD. Well, not so fast...

The weekend came and went and the DVD remained safely shrink wrapped on my kitchen counter.

When the work week began once again and this particular Monday turned out to be a doozie, I headed home to shake off the stress and figured that I had two choices: a glass of wine or 20 minutes with the toughest trainer on TV. I chose wisely.

I hit play and said out loud: "Bring it, Jillian!"

After what seemed more like 30 minutes, I thought to myself "that was fantastic!" So while still in the afterglow of exercise bliss, I made a commitment to surrender to Jillian Michaels' "tough love" every other day for the next 60 days. I read somewhere that it takes 60 days to form a new habit, so I figured that stretching out the 30 Day Shred to 60 days wouldn't do much harm.

Ten days in and I've now graduated to Level II. Although it brings with it squat thrusts and plank jacks, Jillian has become someone I actually look forward to seeing on a regular basis. Progress is slow, but steady, and I'm feeling more energetic, less stressed, and have a have a renewed strength of mind and body. Although I haven't hopped on the scale, my clothes are fitting better and I've got a keen eye on a pair of skinny jeans tucked neatly away in my closet.

Tomorrow morning when I lace up and press play, I know I'm one step closer to my goal of shedding - I mean shredding - those last 10 pounds.

Note: my mom friend is still feeling - and looking - great. Thanks for this inspiration, TR!

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5 things I don't have time for

When you are moving through life in what seems like the speed of light, a multitude of things that would only take a moment to get done remain untouched. Here are a few things I'm just too busy to accomplish.

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?

There's a lot of change brewing. At home and at work. Is it me, or does life seem to change a lot in the Fall? Of course traditionally there's the annual "back to school" rush, but it's been years since I've been involved in that and my son hasn't reached Kindergarten age. Is it the change in seasons? The cooler weather brings with it a change in wardrobe, for one. I've always welcomed change and am feeling that "change is in the air" vibe all around me.

My sister - who also happens to be my best friend - is turning 40 this weekend. I'm honored to be traveling to Atlanta (where we both lived at one point) to share some much needed quality time with her and properly ring in the next decade in her life. A milestone, for sure.

Our son recently "officially" started preschool at the daycare he's been attending since he was three months old. Although we've transitioned from room to room throughout the years, this transition feels big. Maybe it's because the next transition will be Kindergarten. I think it's more than that, though, because my son seems different. He's writing letters now, talking about his school days more, and seems a whole lot more outgoing. Our morning drop offs are (dare I say) a tad bit easier and weekends and evenings have more structure.

At work, we're launching new products, projects and programs. Our "digital first" media approach is really taking shape in the advertising department and changing the way some local businesses are viewing their marketing programs, which is exciting. We're adding a new member to our team this Wednesday, who brings with him a decade of experience and a love of Saratoga to the downtown Saratoga territory.

Positive changes, right? Most definitely. But for me, with change and a whole new to-do list brings with it what I call "monkey mind". Monkey mind is when all I have to do wakes me up in the middle of the night demanding my attention. It's futile to resist. I know, because I've tried...

For the last two weeks, I've been up before 5:00 AM. Today I welcomed my morning at 3:45. I'm not so much tired, as wired. Like clockwork, I get really creative and inspired this time of year. Summers in Saratoga are so busy you barely have time to think. So when Fall quietly arrives and the weather turns, my "wheels" also start turning. As I sign off now and go make what I'm sure will be the first of several cups of coffee I'll drink today, my official intention is to embrace this new day and all the change that comes with it. Seriously, what's the alternative?

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Judge if you will, but the homework is done

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And last night was one of those times.

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 ...

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Friday, September 10, 2010

When your well literally runs dry

My parents, with my son in tow, graciously picked me up at the airport on Monday afternoon after my long trip home from Santiago. We stopped for lunch on the way home and once we arrived, they helped me unload luggage and get settled in. One of the first things I needed to do (with my dad's help) was check the pool levels, filter, etc. "The water is low", my dad yelled from the backyard. "Let's hook up the hose and run it for 10-15 minutes", I said. I set the timer on the microwave and went about unpacking luggage and opening mail.

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.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top 10 things I loved about Santiago, Chile

1. Guacamole for breakfast - Yes, I ate it every morning and would do it again tomorrow if someone made it for me.

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.

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...

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...

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Same old stuff, new school year

Aaaaahhh ... the first day of school has arrived. No fanfare at my house this year, though. Other than loading their (used) backpacks full of (new) supplies, it was the same old bus, same old time, same old almost everything.

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

Within the last ten months, I've travelled to three countries. Kyoto, Japan in November 2009, Paris, France in June 2010 and this past weekend Santiago, Chile. If you find yourself wondering how a mom of a 4-year-old who works full time travels like this, you're not alone. I ask myself the same question when a travel opportunity presents itself. Can I really make this work? There are work and childcare logistics to consider - at a minimum. The honest answer is that it isn't easy, but it's doable. And, it's always worth it.

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.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Working mom time management madness

I'm one of the many moms who embrace both work and motherhood with enthusiasm. I do my both to balance my two passions, and consequently I'm a time management junkie who lives and breathes by a schedule. Is my color-coded outlook calendar over the top? Some say yes, I say no.

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.

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