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, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Turkey Trot

Like many of you, I'll be participating in the Turkey Trot tomorrow. Not the 9th annual Thanksgiving morning road race in Saratoga (although that would be nice), I'm actually talking about the "shuffle" we do from one house to another (to another...).

Some years my husband, son and I attend Thanksgiving dinner at one house followed by another "later" version of Thanksgiving dinner with other family members. Way too much food. Last year, my husband and I ate Flaming Ramen in Japan, which was completely out of the ordinary and wonderful.

Tomorrow we'll be enjoying dinner at my parent's house with my brother, his wife and her two children followed by dessert at my sister-in-law's home with her in-laws, my in-laws and "the boys" (somehow we all managed to have ONLY boys). It's going to be a busy day filled with family, fun and FOOD.

When I lived in Atlanta, when it wasn't feasible to fly home for the holiday, I'd spend Thanksgivings with friends, friend's parents, and once - random friends and total strangers. My sister Suzanne and I were living in Virginia-Highlands and had decided to stay put. When we were invited to what we now refer to as the "craziest Thanksgiving EVER" we joyfully accepted. My friend Carolyn, in the midst of her divorce, decided to host the traditional dinner at her home and invite everyone and anyone without a place to go - including her soon to be Ex! I was single at the time and my sister was dating an Argentinian guy who brought along his entourage. Being the sweet gal that she is, Carolyn included all the "strays" she knew in her grand plan of creating a well-meaning meal with "friends". [She was equally kind to her furry friends.]

Everyone mingled with a drink in hand remarking on the random nature of the group. There were belly laughs and nervous giggles. Hey, we were all new to to this. One thing I learned is that when you invite a mixed bag of people, you end up with buffet that looks more like a pot luck picnic than a proper Thanksgiving table. Still the laughs prevailed and some new friends were made.

The only other Thanksgiving feast that stands apart from the ordinary was when I lived in Athens, GA and joined a local family of artists for Thanksgiving "Tofurkey". No additional comment required.

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

[The Y'all is for my pals in Georgia who shared their holidays with me during the 14 years I lived down South]

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The longest two weeks EVER

At first, I embraced my husband's absence at home. I could watch whatever I wanted on TV after the kids went to bed. I could sleep smack in the middle of the bed (or pile up a bunch of stuff on his side and simply leave it there overnight for lack of ambition to put it away). There's been no argument over the thermostat.(I discovered life above the 60-degree mark is oh-so comfortable!)

Yes, I enjoyed a little time to myself. But, then I moved into the annoyed phase — especially since our children have moved into a phase of their own, one in which they are constantly trying to kill each other. I was in need of some refereeing assistance.

My sweet hubby embarked on a two-week hunting trip and family visit to Kansas on Nov. 5 and returned Nov. 21. Let me just say, it was a loooooong couple of weeks.

A few days before his scheduled departure from Kansas, we had this odd conversation about his homecoming.
Me: "So when are you leaving?"
Him: "Saturday morning."
Me: "Oh, do you think you could leave Friday, instead?"
Him: "Yeah, Saturday."
Me: "Hmm, OK, I was asking if you could leave any earlier than that, like maybe Friday."
Him: "Yep, first thing Saturday morning."
Me: "OK then."


We were overjoyed to discover he had arrived home while we were at church Sunday morning having driven practically straight through the 1,600-mile stretch. We kissed hello and talked a bit before retreating to our respective to-do lists for the day. Guess things are back to normal.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sometimes, a sick day is in order

I was on the fence about it for a solid hour before deciding to just let my son stay home from school today.

I had a mid-day meeting that would need to be rescheduled, but he was having trouble controlling the massive amounts of snot (sorry to be graphic, folks, but this is a mom-related blog, so bodily fluids are fair game for discussion), so I tossed him a box a tissues and said, "Fine, go back to bed. You can stay home."

So I e-mailed and texted bosses and co-workers that I would be working from home and settled into my corner office in the living room.

I hardly ever take a sick day. I don't point this out because I want you to think I'm some kind of martyr or something. Actually, I'm just amazed by the general blessing of good health at my home.

Perhaps it can be attributed to my husband's tough-as-nails genes, but my kids hardly ever are sick enough to stay home. Last year, I can remember picking up my daughter from school once because she had fallen on her face on the pavement. Wow -- not pretty. But she was still healthy -- just with the fattest lip I've ever seen.

She'll be ticked if she knows I've ever breathed a word about it to anyone. (So, shhhhhh ...) She hates for anyone to pay attention to her when she gets hurt. If she trips and falls or stubs her toe, the best reaction is to ignore her. She'll just tell you to leave her alone anyway.

What can I say, she's one tough little chica. A couple summers ago she was playing with some other kids in this creek on a friend of mine's property. Like many of the kids, she was using this vine to swing over the water and then let go -- only she landed on her back on some rocks. I was not there to witness it, but I was told by the supervising adult that she just got up like nothing happened. Upon witnessing this, my friend's daughter whispered, "Is she made of plastic?"

While neither of my children are super-human or anything, they have managed to ward off serious illeness even when surrounded by it at school. Last year, we got notes home from my son's classroom and his football team that he had probably been exposed to the H1N1 flu virus. (No, we didn't get flu shots.) He somehow dodged the bullet.

Sure, my kids get stuffy noses and occasional mild coughs, but they don't let any of that slow them down. Neither of them ever even asks to stay home sick. That's why, when my son was blowing through an entire box of tissues before breakfast and saying he didn't think he could make it through the day, I said, "OK."

I must have a pretty crazy track record because he was fully prepared to have to go to work with me so I wouldn't miss my meeting, but I assured him rescheduling it would not be the end of the world.

It wasn't, either. We're all still here, aren't we?


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Deadlines have no mercy

Deadlines here at work don't care that my husband is out of town and I'm on my own with the kids or that I have to be at church for Christmas production rehearsal or that the dirty laundry is piling up or that the leaves need to be raked or ...

Deadlines have no mercy for the other aspects of your life that also are important.

I went into this past weekend with a burdensome load of work to do for both the daily newspaper and the monthly magazine, which was going to press Monday. With my husband away on his annual hunting trip for the next two weeks, I was heavily relying on the fact that I can access The Saratogian's network from home so I can work from. Bringing my children to the office all weekend was not a workable option, so you can imagine my dismay when I discovered Friday night that the program that allows me access to the system was malfunctioning.

Dismay doesn't describe it, actually. Panic ensued. And that doesn't happen too often with me. I'm the optimistic type that will generally assume things are going to work out, that this must just be a little hiccup. Not this time, though. Nope. I pushed the panic button at the first sign of trouble, first making a call to the IT guy, then following with a desparate e-mail laying out the situation.

He assured me it would get fixed, and indeed, by the next morning, I was able to get into the system from home and work without any problem. I managed to push the daily newspaper stuff off my plate by mid-day Saturday, and in between my daughter's last football game for cheerleading on Saturday evening and and raking some leaves and running errands Sunday, I worked on the magazine. By 2 a.m., I got to a point where I thought I could (and should) stop for the night.

A few hours later, after getting the kids off to school, I resumed working -- last-minute layout and editing, writing my letter for the signature page, making corrections and tweaks, etc.

Of course, because there are not enough hours in the workday, 5:30 p.m. arrived and I still had a huge chunk of my to-do list left. So, I ran across town to pick up the kiddos, grabbed dinner at Wendy's and set them up in the office lunchroom to do their homework.

That didn't last long, though. Once they finished their chicken nuggets, they were swarming my little corner of the newsroom as I desperately worked to keep them quiet while putting the finishing touches on the magazine. (Unfortunately, working at home wouldn't have been prudent for this portion of the process.)

By the time the last page was converted to a PDF to be sent to the printer in Pennsylvania electronically, I had about a thousand new gray hairs. And it was 9:30 p.m., definitely past bedtime.

We got home and to bed pretty quickly — an end to a stressful stretch in the life of this editor/mom.

Like I said, deadlines have no mercy.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Work/life balance? Not exactly.

This November is going to be a "Can she do it?" or, here's hoping, a "She lives to tell the tale!" kind of month for this working mom. You see, it's that time of year. Yes, budget reviews. I'll be, along with our local team, defending our 2011 budget at the end of this month. That, as you can probably imagine, involves a lot of preparation - meetings, spreadsheet reviews, number crunching, creativity, collaboration, and more meetings. In other words, it's a really busy time of year.

So here's the kicker:

My husband is having a similar month. He'll be leaving shortly for a week of global travel. He's training a team on his company's product who don't speak his language. No stress there! When he returns from this trip, he'll have 36 hours on the ground before flying out again the following week. The week after that? You guessed it - more travel.

So what's a working mom with a full workload and a four year old to do?

Panic? No. Plan? Most definitely.

It takes a tremendous amount of planning (and patience) to make this kind of work/life scheduling nightmare not an actual nightmare. Although we do this routinely as a family, my husband's and my schedule had collided at this level of magnitude until now. I'm admittedly unsure how I'll handle it all, although I'm comforted by the fact that if something goes wrong (you can't count on it), I have people in my life that will step in to lend a hand - coworkers, family members and my inner circle of mom friends. It's not going to be easy, but by the time Christmas rolls around, I'll be on the other side of what seems like a trek up Mount Everest at the moment. Until I can enjoy the view, I might as well enjoy the climb.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Experiencing technical difficulties

Last weekend I confidently told the guy helping me at Best Buy I didn't need one of their geeks to come to my house to set up the wireless router I was purchasing. No siree, I could figure it out on my own because:
A. I'm too cheap to pay someone to hook something up at my house.
B. I think I'm more technically savvy than I really am.

It started out simple, so I thought. Hook up a router to the modem so I can use my work laptop anywhere in the house instead of being tethered to the modem whenever I want to connect to The Saratogian's network. With wireless successfully operational throughout the house, we could then connect our Wii gaming system to the Internet and order Netflix movies through it. It all sounded so blissful.

But here I am, many hours invested and days later, with a tangle of cords and wires, a new router shoved back in the box and stowed under the printer table and no wireless Internet connection anywhere in the house.

Those who know me well can attest I don't give up easily. But after spending my entire Saturday evening connecting this to that, rebooting and rebooting again, and even live chatting online with "Hetan" from the router company (until he instructed me to do something that disconnected me from the Internet), I kinda packed it in for lack of any new ideas.

Both my laptop and the Wii can connect to the wireless network, but both say there is "no Internet connection available" on said network.

My husband — who is amazingly mechanically inclined and handy, but whose computer skills are limited to checking his e-mail and cruising Craigslist for crap we don't need — offered only one solution after each of my dead-end attempts: Bring the router back to the store.

Well, I know that's not the answer. But I'm still holding out on hiring help because:
A:I'm still too cheap.
B. Though I can now admit that I am not that tech savvy, I am still very stubborn.

Maybe I'll have to get Hetan back on the line.

Of course, that will depend on whether the computer is even functioning after all my tinkering. My husband called me while I was working late the other night to ask what I could have possibly done that would cause the keyboard to not work anymore. Oops.

What's the number for the Geek Squad again? You know, just in case ...

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