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, December 28, 2010

My much needed "blog-cation"

This month, I took a little vacation from blogging. As a quintessential extrovert, I'm almost always in the middle of whatever is happening - at work and at home. Yet when the holidays roll around each year and coincide with quarter end and year end at work, my external focus takes a sharp turn inward. In short, it's just a bit too much to handle. In order to pull off hitting revenue expectations at work, being certain my team takes all their (well deserved) vacation time, being Santa for my four year old, gift giving for friends and relatives, and preparing food for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my ability to do anything "extra" is nil.

In fact, with six birthdays in late December and early January in addition to Christmas, I get downright overwhelmed and a tad cranky.

The only way I was going to be able to blog during late December was to full-on vent about the multitude of things I had to do. I'm sure you're happily nodding that I spared you the interaction. Frankly, no one wants to hear anyone else complain - especially with Christmas music playing in the background! Sure, some people are super good listeners and kind-hearted friends, but there's a limit to what a person should have to bear.

Most moms, working of otherwise, agree that this time of year is hectic. Sure it's a joyful time of year, but it's like a race to the finish as the final days before Christmas tick away...

The holidays are now over and I'm focusing on the promise of a brand new year ahead. As I draft my annual list of action items, goals and dreams for the future, I plan to reset my expectations in key areas. A little harder on myself in the "me" category: working out, healthy eating, etc. and a little easier on myself in the "you can do it all" category. Seriously, we're not "supermomwomenemployeewives", right? There's only one of me and as someone who had a couple health scares this year, I know I can't do any of it if I'm not well. Thankfully, a warning was all I needed to get back on track and not let myself forget about, well, me.

Here's to a new year that has all the "good stuff": peace, joy, love, health and prosperity. Cheers!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

It's not just change in a jar

Last week, after nearly four months, the Mason jar that sat at the center of our kitchen table, was finally ready for delivery.

We usually throw our loose change into another container and call it something like “the go-kart fund” or whatever fun family thing we’re saving for. But this jar was different. We didn’t know who the growing collection of coins was for, just that we would give it away when the time came.

We had heard of saving change in a “Christmas Jar” to be given away that week in December but didn’t get one started until we got a nudge one Sunday at church. The front of the sanctuary that morning gleamed with more than a hundred empty jars.
No excuses — start saving change in the jar.

The Christmas Jar concept certainly didn’t start with Saratoga Abundant Life Church. Jason F. Wright’s 2005 novel, a New York Times bestseller, sparked the nationwide phenomenon. The book has since inspired thousands to collect and give away jars of change to strangers or anonymously to someone in need whom they know.

While my husband uses cash regularly and habitually empties the pockets of his work pants at day’s end, I tend to use my debit card, even when I swing through Stewart’s for a gallon of milk. So I had to be deliberate about gathering change.

The jar was a bit over 3/4 filled a few days before Christmas week, when my 8-year-old daughter took her piggy bank from her dresser and pulled the plug from its pink underside to dump her savings into the jar. There, full.

I put the jar in the backseat of the car, ready for whomever, wherever. I would wait for God to put someone in my path.

I guess I wasn’t expecting someone to be so literally in my path. But driving to work Monday -- frankly a bit spaced out and singing along to the radio — I signaled to turn onto Phila Street off of Broadway in Saratoga Springs, my usual route to The Saratogian parking lot. I didn’t see him starting to cross the street until I got around the nose of the Fed Ex truck partially blocking the entrance.

He was leaning on a shopping cart filled with bags bearing the names of different retail stores. We made eye contact, and he politely waved for me to go. I was also waving him. It was a goofy little exchange that made me laugh. And I went ahead, glancing in the rearview mirror as he crossed behind me.

When I got to the end of the street, it was as though God slapped me in the back of the head. “There’s your person.”

I wrestled with the urging all the way to my parking lot. I mean, I really should get into the office and get to work, right?

Something in my heart overrided those thoughts, though, and I parked, grabbed the jar from the backseat, tossed it in my handbag (heavy!) and booked up Caroline Street to Broadway. No sign of him as I looked up and down Broadway. “If I see him again, it’s meant for him,” I thought, and walked north a block.

In the distance, I saw him crossing Division Street. I could practically hear my heart beating in my ears as I gained on him. Just as I approached him from behind, he paused to rest.

“Hello, how are you?” I asked, out of breath.

“Good, how are you?” he responded.


“It’s warming up, though,” he said, looking up at the sunny, blue sky.

“I have something for you,” I said, digging in my bag for the jar. “My family has been saving this, and I just know it was meant for you.”

I handed it to him. “God loves you.”

“God loves me, huh?” he said, smiling. “Well, I will graciously accept this.”
With care, he placed it atop his belongings in the cart.

“Merry Christmas,” I said as I started back toward Broadway, choking back tears as I turned from him.

“Merry Christmas.”

Who knew saving change in a jar could have such an impact? But it was a blessing, to that man and to my family.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday survival tips for working moms

As a working mom, I can tell you life is busy. When the holidays arrive each year, "busy" anxiously welcomes its long lost pal "overwhelm". So how can you cope with stress during the season of supposed cheer?

Delegate. Are you lucky enough to have a friend or coworker who's a fabulous baker? I do. Emily Donohue, our online editor here at The Saratogian, can whip up a delectable holiday cookie tray in a flash. I just ordered two homemade (albeit not by me) cookie trays that will be ready on Christmas Eve. If you don't have your own source, feel free to borrow mine. Emily's Cookies

Schedule a sanity check. Call a girlfriend for coffee or tag team a shopping trip. I play Bunco with more than 20 great gals in Saratoga once a month and this month we're turning our "girl's night in" into a girl's night outside. Honk if you see a group of women serenading fellow Saratogians on Broadway in Saratoga this Thursday! I'm looking so forward to getting into the spirit of the season.

Sign on. I was a late adopter to online shopping. I think it's partly because I spent nearly four years as a local business owner before returning to media. I couldn't bring myself to shop at a store where I didn't know the owner (or manager, at least). You know what changed that? I had a baby and became a working mother! Now, I buy the name brand stuff the way the rest of the world does. For unique and handmade gifts, I shop local all the way. It's all about balance when you don't have the luxury of time.

Start a new tradition. I'd like to say my idea for starting a new family tradition came straight from the heart. Nope. Mine came in the form of a Bed, Bath and Beyond $5 off coupon. The flyer from the paper showcased an easy-to-assemple, fully stocked kit for making a colorful, traditional ginger bread house. For about ten bucks, I've got myself a new family tradition.

Treat yourself. You know you want to. That gorgeous scarf. The over-the-knee leather boots. A relaxing massage. My version of taming the holiday tension took the form of a much needed personal day last Friday that included a hot stone massage. The soft light, aromas, and the sensation of knots leaving my stressed out shoulders proved to be just what I needed.

Enjoy the season and feel free to share your holiday survival tips with me!

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life right now is messy, literally

I used to be a much better housekeeper. Of course, that was before life got this messy, literally.

It was actually easier when the kids were babies, I think. At least they napped, and I could run around the house tidying and cleaning then.

Now, we're so busy between their commitments and mine (I'm lucky if I'm home one night a week), it's pretty easy for the week's junk to pile up. The kids bring home so much paper from school, so the kitchen table gets buried by Friday. It's a good thing we actually eat at the breakfast bar instead. If I get sick of it by mid-week, I can create an illusion of order by neatening the pile and shoving it into one corner.

Before I leave the house in the morning, I have a ritual, though, in which I do the following:
— Make all the beds
— Fold any blankets left in a ball on the couch the night before, and return all couch pillows to their respective places on the couches and chairs.
— Put dishes in the dishwasher, and set it to run later in the day if it's full
— Put a load of wash in, and set it to run after the dishwasher (love these devices with delayed-start programming. It makes me feel so productive at home even while I'm at work.)

Some of this stuff sounds a little obsessive compulsive, but it really helps to come home to some semblance of order after running around all day.

Still, over the years, I've had to learn to let some things go — to block the layer of dust in the living room out of my mind — until I can get to it, perhaps on the weekend. And even then, with lots of activities on the weekend, too, many times I have to spread what used to be a weekly cleaning routine over two or three weeks.

We have a chore chart on the fridge on which the kids are each assigned daily tasks — stuff that I really need help with throughout the week. Sometimes it's more of a chore to work it in during the evening in addition to dinner, homework, showers, etc.

The truth is, most of the time, my three roomates don't seem to see the dirt, clutter and general disarray the way I do. It doesn't bother them, and they can successfully relax in the house, even play a game. Perhaps it's time I gave in a little and just adopt the old adage "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Cold night, warm hearts for this mother-daughter duo

I've always hoped my children would be involved in music the way I have, so it thrills me that my daughter has taken an interest in singing.

She joined the chorus at Wood Road Elementary and enjoys being part of a corporate singing group (absolutely no interest in solos). And for the second year, she expressed interest in being a part of our church choir performance during the Victorian Streetwalk.

There was no pressure from me; she piped right up when asked if she wanted to do it. She knew it would be cold out there during the night-time street festival. But, also like her mother, she likes to be where the action is, even if it means freezing her patootie off.

I was so proud of her, though. She stood in front with her book of music, her finger following the words so she wouldn't lose her place. She only turned around once to tell me, "My legs are cold, Mom," to which I replied, "Just move around a little as you're singing to keep warm."

After an hour-long set, we had a 15-minute break. Her first thought: beelining for a place with hot cocoa — a real treat on a cold night. I had only $3 in my pocket, so we had to ration our money. After spending a buck a piece on cocoa, we wandered in and out of a couple of shops where musicians were playing inside — listening for a few minutes to a harpist in one place and a man playing violin in another.

Then we were back in our choir rows by the Saratoga Springs City Center to do another hour-long set. What joy to watch her in front of me, swaying and grooving to the beat from song to song. At moments, when the large crowd that gathered to hear our Abundant Life Church singers was singing along with us, it seemed as though our voices were carrying all the way down Broadway.

Once we'd wrapped up our singing commitments, we wandered back through the crowds to spend our last dollar on a box of popcorn. We managed to get her a balloon, too, just as the folks doing balloon animals were wrapping things up for the evening.

As we walked back to the car, she sighed with satisfaction of the night's events. "I love Victorian walk," she said.

"Me, too," I told her. "I'm not sure if we should tell the boys, though."

My husband and son only see participating in this annual event as standing out in the cold. I admit I like having something that's our mother-daughter thing, so maybe we'll just keep the guys in the dark about how special it is.

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