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.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Beat the winter doldrums with these 5 tips

"Statistics vary, but 20 percent of Americans suffer from SAD or a lesser condition that Michael Terman, a leading researcher on seasonal disorders, calls the winter doldrums. Another 30 percent will experience one or more SAD symptoms, which include winter weight gain, a craving for sweet or starchy foods, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, irritability, avoidance of social situations, oversleeping and a heavy feeling in the arms or legs. Seasonal disorders occur more often in northern climates and affect women more than men says Terman, director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and founder of the nonprofit Center for Environmental Therapeutics."

This excerpt from an article entitled, How to fire up employees during the post-holiday gloom by Matt Bolch, popped on Google when I was looking for ways to combat my own winter doldrums. Although the findings are relevant to us living in the Northeast, it's not necessarily news. In fact, a good number of my neighbors, friends and colleagues here in the Saratoga community accept that they will inevitably succumb to the winter doldrums this winter. Not mentioned in the article are children. I can personally attest to seeing at least some of these symptoms in my son. At a minimum, our household is officially suffering from cabin fever.

On this first day of February, I thoughts I'd share a few personal strategies to help families survive cabin fever:

  1. Don't forget the kitchen when looking for projects to cure the winter doldrums. The last time we were snowed in, my son and I made Dark Chocolate and Oat Clusters that were as fun to make as they were to eat. Find this healthy treat recipe here from
  2. Make sure the family's snow gear is accessible at all times so you can relieve the pressure of boredom or mania at any given moment. You don't want to spend 20 minutes searching for snow pants or a renegade boot (been there). The sun is still the best way to get your Vitamin D, so bundle up (sunscreen up if you're going to be out for a while) and get out there and play!
  3. Board games, especially interactive games (no, not Wii) like Twister make for afternoon fun and big laughs. Twister also counts as exercise for adults and helps kids burn off excess energy when house bound.
  4. Make cleaning up fun. Buy dollar store toys and have them on hand as prizes for cleaning games: Who can match the most socks, who can clean their room the fastest, who can finish their chores first. For little ones, you can give prizes for a completed alphabet or counting to 10 in Spanish.
  5. Reading together. Prepare some hot cocoa and a light snack to share. Then ask each family member to grab their favorite book(s) and join you on the couch. Quiet contemplation and good old fashion snuggling is a necessary sanity check on snow days and long winter weekends.

My personal goal this season is to beat the winter doldrums and embrace the fun and closeness it brings for our family. Sure winter's a little unpredictable, but you can't control mother nature. Just like mom, mother nature likes it that way.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, January 28, 2011

I've lost my husband to online shopping

Somehow, in the midst of the winter chill that's driven us indoors, my husband has become obsessed with online shopping.

According to him, I started the whole thing by doing a chunk of our Christmas shopping online. Perhaps it was the thrill of packages arriving at the house that he found appealing. Or maybe just the fact that you don't actually have to leave the house to shop.

My husband is not the shopping type. Usually, unless we're at Dick's Sporting Goods or Cabela's, he detests shopping. So being able to cover so much ground online looking for specific items has propelled him into a near addiction.

He didn't come right out and tell me about the stuff he was buying because he told me we were on a "spending freeze," but kids love to tell on their parents. So I got the skinny from my son, who was trying to divert attention from getting in trouble for something himself.

At first, I didn't say much to my husband, thinking I could save it for some time when he protests one of my "have to go because I have a 30 percent off coupon" trips to Kohl's. It's good to have a free pass like that in your pocket.

But then he dragged me into the situation, asking what I thought he should do about some difficulty he was having with this particular purchase in which the item was backordered. So, in the course of giving my opinion about that, I couldn't help mentioning that I didn't see why he needed to buy these fancy binoculars in the first place. I followed that with my observation that his online shopping habits had spiraled out of control.

His response — that it kept him from getting depressed by the dreariness of winter. So I said, "Well if you need some things to keep you busy or entertained, there are plenty of little projects in the house to do."

To which he replied: "No honey, that's what keeps you from getting depressed in the winter."

Clever guy, eh?

Labels: ,

Monday, January 24, 2011

School delays = parental headaches

I couldn't believe my ears this morning as I woke to the radio alarm: Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa school districts were delayed by two hours. Saratoga ended up closing all together, disappointing my kids, who still had to go.

No snow this time, but frrrrrigid temperatures (way below zero) had the buses refusing to cooperate.

I snapped at my son when he let out a loud "Aw, man," upon seeing it was a delay instead of a cancellation. "You've got to be kidding me. It's like you guys have hardly even been at school lately. You need to go to school."

Of course, with another storm possible mid-week, the happy dance may erupt in my house -- again.

Apparently all the local kids have been sleeping with their pajamas inside out and spoons under their pillows. At least that's what my kids have heard through the elementary school grapevine as ways to ensure a snow day will be called.

If my husband weren't on a seasonal layoff from work, we'd be among the hundreds of local families scrambling when the district calls for a snow day or delay. Typically, I would call the Ballston Area Community Center, where my kids are enrolled in the afterschool program. They have a limited number of spots for child care on snow days, so I would get on the phone as close to 6 a.m. as possible to be sure we got a spot.

In the case of a delay, there's no getting around it: I'm going in late to work. However, I can usually work from home a bit so I don't lose too much ground.

There's no way around it for a working mom, though. Snow days and delays will get cheers from our kids -- and jeers from us.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dreaming of sun and sand

As we are preparing to get yet another round of snow -- and this time some sleet and possibly ice, too -- I'm fast-forwarding in my mind to the week of February break, when we are planning to make our escape from the frozen tundra to the Florida Keys.

We've never taken a vacation during that week, but with my husband home on a seasonal layoff, the kids off from school that third week in February, I thought, why not? So after I got the OK from work, I was off and planning -- OBSESSIVELY.

My vacation fund isn't too big, so we weren't sure what we could afford in the realm of a warm weather getaway. But my husband and I got giggly when we discovered flights on Southwest from Albany to Fort Lauderdale for $80 each way. We could actually afford this!

Of course, it was late at night and I didn't book the flights right then. The next day I didn't get a chance to get back to it. So when went back to the website two days later, I got a big slap in the face. The rates had doubled. It was now $167 each way. So I did what anyone would do. I cried. I didn't see any way we could go anymore.

But my husband had all the answers: "We'll just drive. That way we can pack our fishing poles and life jackets and snorkel gear and stuff we wouldn't have been able to take."

So we mapped it to see how log and far — about 25 hours. It's no longer than the Kansas trip we've made more than a dozen times. We're hard-core drivers. The Florida Keys would be no match for the DeMars clan.

Besides, we'd be saving a lot of money. We wouldn't have to rent a car once we got there like we'd originally planned.

So then the search was on for a reasonably priced rental house somewhere in the Keys. I must have looked at a couple hundred places at and VRBO (vacation rentals by owner).

Finally, after e-mailing multiple places and getting "sorry, we're booked solid" notices, we scored a house in Key Largo -- cheap, too. (Here's to hoping it's half-way decent!) She only had it avaialble for four of our six nights, though, so my search continued. Somehow I stumbled upon a fishing resort that included a half-day boat rental with each night's stay. (A major score for my husband and son). I was sold on the pool, beach and other resort amenities. Totally affordable, too. They had one suite left.

Having learned our lesson with the flight situation, we booked right away.

So now, I'm reading up on "what not to miss" while in the Keys to make sure we take full advantage of our time. Suggestions welcome!

Labels: ,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Media Moms: Photo shoot or mad mom rush?

You couldn't really call it a photo shoot because working moms were involved. '

It all started because I finally had an appointment to have my hair colored and cut on my calendar. Sure it had been on my calender two weeks prior (conference call bumped that one), but this one was going to stick. It had to, since my roots were quickly becoming borderline offensive.

Our current MediaMoms photo is 1 1/2 years old. This fact, combined with the thought of great hair, prompted the photo shoot idea. Here's my thinking: the day you get your hair done is the PERFECT day to take a photo. In fact, it's the only day that month that your hair is going to look like you actually spent more than 10 minutes on it.

I shared my epiphany with Betsy Demars, fellow Media Mom, and Erica Miller, The Saratogian's chief photog. They couldn't argue with female logic, so the question became, could they make it work? The answer: well, maybe. We decided to play the whole thing by ear since we had to also factor in breaking news (the nerve!).

Our set appointment time came and went, which we all knew it would. Then an hour later, we all suddenly found ourselves - long after five, mind you - in the same room. With no time for primping or planning. our creative strategy was simply "let's do this thing".

The time frame allotted for the photo? Less than five minutes. Why? Betsy had made a promise to her son that she'd personally shuffle him to practice. She had to make that stick, and we weren't about to let her down.

Erica, being the talented gal she is, decided that even though it was pitch dark - we needed to get out there. In the freezing cold. So onto Maple Avenue we went with a prop (chair) in hand. Shivering back to back, we laughed out loud and the irony of the moment. How on earth do you schedule and art direct two working moms into the perfect shot? You don't. Because there is no perfect day, time, shot. Thankfully, we'd given up on perfection when we became working moms!

I haven't seen the photographs, but I know that seeing them will bring to mind the reality of being a mom who works and makes promises to her kids, who still needs to cover her roots and who accepts the fact that these things rarely go as planned. Nor are they easily scheduled. Home and work collide every day. It's a messy job, but these two Media Moms like it that way. And, we have the pictures to prove it.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

18 volts of cake-mixing power

My husband is a practical guy, and he's always looking for the smartest, most efficient way of doing things. And he comes up with some pretty interesting stuff. It's not usually the approach most people take to doing things.

Today, as he was preparing to make a cake, he needed the mixer. But he hates our mixer. In fact, for years, he refused to use the new one and would drag out the pink one circa 1965 that his mother gave him forever ago. The thing actually had to warm up before it got up to speed. I'm not sure what ever happened to that thing. ;)

Apparently, we still had an old beater attachment. This is the resulting brainstorm my handy, dandy hubby came up with for the cake mix.

Yep. It's Mr. Mom and his Mikita. What can possibly be next?

Snow day, schmoe day

Aaah, it's so nice to have a snow day. A day to just sit inside, read a little, maybe watch a movie and bake some cookies. Of course, as soon as the kids come in from their romp in the fresh snow, I'll make some hot cocoa and maybe play a boardgame.

Oh wait. None of that stuff really happened. Let me start over.

Well, it snowed a lot, so I checked my e-mail first thing and updated The Saratogian website with some info about flight cancellations at Albany Airport.

Then I realized the printer for Spirit of Saratoga magazine was waiting for my approval of the pages to put the issue on the press, so needed to get into the files ASAP. Bonus, though — I was able to work via laptop beside my cozy woodstove for about an hour before the driveway was plowed.

Of course, the kids didn't have school, and my husband is off, too, so as they all feasted on pancakes, I bundled up, slid down the driveway (in my car, not the fun way) and made my way to the office so I could attend a meeting and make a deadline.

OK, OK, I know I sound a little bitter. I am happy that my darlings have such a wonderful opportunity to relax and play today.

Yeah, the sarcasm just oozes out of that sentence, doesn't it?. It's hard to mask the envy.

My husband tried to soften the blow with promises of a lovely meal upon my return home. Thanks, honey. I'm definitely looking forward to it.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Demystifying fitness class jargon

I rarely buy into the New Year Resolution thing (particularly from a fitness perspective), but this year - I'm so in! In fact, I've become borderline obsessive about going to the gym. Our family belongs to the local YMCA and there are a myriad of class offerings to keep you fit and focused. In other words, they don't want you to get bored and lose interest in coming. This might explain why they're not complacent about carving out clever class titles. Some are more straight forward than others, and one I had to Google since venturing a guess was out of the question. I noticed that this particular class is no longer on the schedule. Clearly I wasn't alone in my bewilderment...

During today's class called "Reduce Your Assets", I found myself giggling at what that really meant. Below you'll find my personal translations of some common fitness class titles:

Reduce Your Assets. You have a big old butt and it's about time you faced that fact. You might have noticed this had you bothered to look at your backside in the mirror during the last six months.

Boot Camp. You're gonna want to call your mama crying after this hour of drills, sprints, and squat thrusts. I didn't need to call mine, since she was right next to me. Mom and I finished the class without crying (maybe just a few tears) and I've even gone back for more.

Rip, Ride n-Core. I haven't been to this one, but here's what I think might take place. RIP your shirt off, jump on your Harley and RIDE around town while simultaneously eating an apple. Throw the apple CORE in the compost heap out behind the YMCA on your way back from your joyride. Seriously, this one sounds too intense for me.

Gravity Group. Haven't taken this one, but there's not doubt that I should. As a 40-something female, although gravity has thankfully worked its butt off trying to hold everything in place, alas some pieces-parts are slipping. I WILL give this one a try.

Zen Sculpt. The YMCA has an art department? Sculpting statues of Buddha? Throw in a cup of green tea and I'm so there.

Silver Sneakers. Although I know for a fact that this class is for older adults [read: waaaay older than me], I can't help but picture a cult waiting for instructions from their leader in matching sneakers. Sorry, it can't be helped.

Hip Hop Cycle. I've seen Hip Hop dancers and I've personally ridden a bicycle on numerous occasions. The thought of combining the two just sounds dangerous to me. Thanks, but no thanks.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, January 3, 2011

You're not my best friend anymore

Apparently, I'm not the only one hearing this from my four year old (phew!).

Our family went skating this weekend with friends who also have a four year old son. So when my mom friend and I had a minute to catch up between the skating rink and the bouncy-bounce, we discovered we had both heard "you're not my best friend anymore", "you're not my good mommy" and the dreaded "I'm not listening to you. You're a mean mommy" recently. [Insert collective sigh of relief here]

As a mom, words like that make you feel as though a million little heat seeking missiles are piercing your heart. What? You don't think I'm the best thing since sliced bread? No?

Well, that's because I'm not your best friend. I'm your mom.

My friend and I share the same sentiment when it comes to responding to the "you're not my best friend, mommy" kind of kid backtalk. It's simply not our job to be our boys' "best friends". Our collective responsibility as moms is to raise kind, generous, well-mannered young men. Sure they're cute enough (and turns out clever & bold), but that's not enough. These boys will someday (hopefully) be a great boyfriend or the husband of some girl's dream.

For now, our little guys are all ours. But someday, they'll be so much more than that. Teammates, students, roommates, boyfriends, employees, husbands and - dare I say - fathers. Although it's hard to believe, our little "talks" about the importance of manners, respect and kindness may just make a difference. We're counting on it.

Labels: , , , , ,