Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Wrong, my friends.
This is a HUGE deal.
The other night my five year-old went to get some water from the dispenser located on the fridge door. When it didn’t work, she turned to look at me...stunned.
The blank stare in her eyes said it all: “What should I do now Mom? I’m thirsty, and there’s no water.”
I have a college degree. I solve complex issues at the office every day. Yet, for a moment, I was stumped.
And then it came to me…
Aaaah, yes! We have a faucet in the kitchen that can be used for more than rinsing dirty dishes. We can actually drink water that comes from the kitchen faucet.
(Although the acceptability of the mineral content in the water of the Mountain Green “Cottonwoods Phase 1” subdivision as been a topic of great debate in the last year.)
We’re troubleshooting the fridge problem via Google (if you think life without water in the fridge door is tough, I can’t imagine trying to resolve any household issue without Google…we would actually have to locate an owner’s manual).
With any luck we’ll have the waterless fridge situation resolved shortly. Until then, I just hope nothing more significant than a light bulb goes out…I can’t spare the brain power!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
- The baby’s due date was still 12 days away;
- I didn’t have any contractions or labor pains; and,
- It was Christmas morning…what the heck was the baby thinking?
Ryan started making phone calls, sharing the news.
“Merry Christmas. Diana’s water broke so we’re headed to the hospital.”
Everyone, except for the doctor, thought we were joking.
L O N G story short, the best Christmas present we ever received was born at 9:03 p.m. on December 25th.
So far, Lauren likes her birthday on Christmas Day. One Christmas Eve, when she was about to become five years-old, someone asked her “Lauren, is tomorrow your birthday?”
Her response, “Yep, me and Jesus.”
I suppose if you’re got to choose to share a birthday with someone significant, it would be Him.
I have solicited advice over the years on how to handle the birthday-and-Christmas-all-in-one-day situation. This is what we’ve done so far…feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section of this blog.
- There is a birthday present under the tree on Christmas morning from Santa. It is wrapped in birthday paper, not Christmas paper.
- We don’t combine birthday presents and Christmas presents. We do Christmas presents in the morning and birthday presents at night.
- On the night on the 25th, we have a family birthday party, complete with cake and ice cream. There are usually games and even a piñata.
- If she has a birthday party with friends, we hold it in January after the Christmas decorations are put away. If not, she chooses a special family activity to celebrate her birthday on a day other than December 25th. This year she wants us to all go to Tepanyaki for dinner. (Good choice Lauren!)
It always amazes me when Lauren tells someone “My birthday is on Christmas” and they respond “I bet you hate that.”
Really? C’mon people!!!
I’m busting my you-know-what-off to make the birthday-and-Christmas combo a success. And then some yahoo comes along and tells her that she’s getting a raw deal because she was born on December 25th.
There should be a support group for parents with Christmas babies. And our mission will be to stop the stupid things people say to our children about their birthday. We’ll even let parents who have babies born within a week of Christmas join the group.
Other communication points for our Christmas baby support group could be:
- Say “Happy Birthday” first and “Merry Christmas” second;
- Send a separate birthday card from your Christmas card; and,
- Never wrap birthday presents in Christmas paper or gift bags.
I could go on, but in the spirit of season I’ll jump off my soap box.
I wish a very happy birthday to everyone who was born in late December.
Oh, and Merry Christmas too!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
In 2008 Barbie released The Diamond Castle DVD. We made the purchase and added it to the collection. About a year later I found a Barbie named Liana from the movie at Big Lots for $10 so I purchased it for my daughter.
(Background information: There is a series of Barbie animated movies that go straight to DVD. About one new movie is released each year. Then Barbie mass markets the dolls, playsets, accessories, books, etc., until the next movie is released.)
Fast forward to October 2010. I asked my five year-old, Jenna, what she wanted for Christmas. She said The Diamond Castle playset and the other Barbie from the movie named Alexa. I visited several different stores. Nothing. Then I go online to shop. I soon discovered that the castle originally retailed for about $95 but is no longer in production. It now goes on eBay and Amazon for up to $350 new, about $200 used. Barbie Alexa is going for about $50.
Are. You. Kidding. Me?
We already have other Barbie castles in the basement. In fact, I learned that the Barbie Twelve Dancing Princesses castle that we originally paid about $40 for is now going for $150 on eBay. These things are cheaply made…probably for about $5 in China.
So I put together a plan that included my husband and eight year-old daughter who is “in-the-know” when it comes to Santa. First we visited several stores so Jenna could show me The Diamond Castle playset. When we couldn’t find it, I told her it wasn’t available anymore.
Then, we all went to Costco where we saw the Barbie airplane, and convinced Jenna it was the coolest Barbie toy ever. I purchased it the next day and stashed it in the super secret hiding place.
I thought we were good-to-go until a few weeks ago when Jenna said, “Mom, I know that I can still get a Diamond Castle playset for Christmas because Santa’s elves can make anything.”
Yikes! She out-smarted me on that one. I changed the subject to the absolute awesomeness of the Barbie airplane.
Then on Tuesday night, at an office family Christmas party with Santa Claus as the guest-of-honor, I got another whammy.
After a chat with Santa, Jenna reported that Santa said the elves were working on her Diamond Castle playset and Barbie Alexa.
“What about the Barbie airplane?” I asked.
“I want that next year mom,” she replied.
Dang that Santa Claus!
After conferring with several family members, friends and associates, we devised a plan.
One of Santa’s elves would call Jenna and leave her a voicemail message. He would tell her that when Santa returned to the North Pole after the party he told the elves that he needed a Diamond Castle playset. However, Santa didn’t know that the elves weren’t making Diamond Castle playsets this year. So Santa told the elves that Jenna had been a very good girl, so to make her some other really cool toys that he would be deliver to her house for Christmas morning.
I recruited a co-worker to perpetuate this white lie to my daughter as “Joey,” an elf at Santa’s workshop. With script in hand, he called the house and left the message.
That night, we told Jenna that we had received a call from the North Pole. She was very excited as she listened to the message from Joey-the-elf. In fact, she was so excited that it took three times of listening to the message and then further explanation from me to help her understand that The Diamond Castle playset wasn’t going to happen.
And guess what? She was okay with it because she knew Santa was loading up his sleigh with other good stuff for her. Mission accomplished!
I was feeling like mother-of-the-year for resolving this issue in such a fine manner. Sure, it took some lying and deception. But hey, it was all in the spirit of Christmas.
Of course that feeling was short-lived. Today, on the way to her Christmas concert choir rehearsal, Jenna said to me, “Mom, I think Santa is bringing me a Barbie airplane from Christmas. And a princess kitchen.”
“What?” I responded, slightly panicked. “A princess kitchen?”
“Yes, mom. I had to add that to my list because they aren’t making The Diamond Castle playsets this year,” she continued. “And I KNOW that the elves are making kitchens because I’ve seen them in the stores.”
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Jenna (out of the blue): Mom, President Obama is out of town.
Me: He is? Where did he go…India?
Jenna: I don’t know what it is called. Some place with lots of monkeys.
Me: Monkeys? How do you know that?
Jenna: I saw it on the news…DUH!
Sadly, my five year-old is more “up” on current events than many adults I know.
I like to stay informed on current events. I enjoy reading both non-fiction and fiction books. On occasion, I even get to watch a documentary on TV. Knowledge gained from information and experience is power. And when you have power, you can have influence. Hopefully, we can all use our influence for the greater good.
Why? Wendy Beecham, CEO of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs & Executives, says "Studies have shown there are different way of approaching problems, so the more diversity you have, with regards to both skill sets and and culture, the greater your chances of success."
To quote my five year-old... "DUH!"
Women have so much to offer any organization! And it’s been that way from the very beginning of time. Eve didn’t come along after Adam to just pick out paint colors and rearrange the furniture. She was there right at the start, taking an active part in the world. Her role as a woman was critical to the successful future of the entire human race!
I am so impressed by women who use their talents and strengths to make a difference. I love women who act with a purpose. I applaud women who get involved schools, community events, church groups, politics and charitable organizations. I respect women who can achieve work/life balance as they carefully manage a family and career. I admire women who go beyond their comfort zones to improve themselves and help others.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I have pondered my many blessings along with opportunities for growth. One of my greatest challenges has been achieving balance as a mom + career woman. And yet, it is managing those challenges that has helped me stay focused on what is most important and create a life with true meaning.
I resolve to be an influence for good. I will strive to perform with a purpose.
And I promise to take more trips to the dollar store with my five year-old so we can discuss the current events of the day and ultimately make the world a better place.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Last week I’m in the car with my girls and “I Like It” by Enrique Iglesias comes on the radio. So I turn it up and start singing along when my 8 year-old asks, “Mom, you like this song?”
Lauren: But Mom, it’s not a nice song.
Me: Not nice...why?
Lauren: Because it says “Your boyfriend is on vacation and he doesn’t have to know.”
Me: Oh. Sorry. I guess I wasn’t paying attention.
And this is not the first time she's called me out on my music. The other day she got on my case about “Pump It” by the Black-Eyed Peas on my iPod because of a couple of swear words. Not the really bad swear words...just the semi-bad swear words.
So the good news is that my daughter is aware that not all music is appropriate. The bad news is that my daughter is telling me that MY music is inappropriate.
I should be recording these conversations so when she is 16 years-old I can just play them back when I’m scolding her for listening to some lame hip-hop song. With my luck, she’ll develop a love for country music and we’ll be stuck listening to songs about trucks and turkeys and farms and feuds.
Of course I am doing my best to help her appreciate the greatest music decade ever…the 80s. So far I haven’t had much luck. I get ridiculed when I crank up an 80s tune and sing along.
The reality of the situation is that I'm in a lose-lose situation when it comes to listening to music with my kids around. I'm either getting called to repentance or mocked.
I've thought about switching over to some really boring audio book that they have to listen to while we're in the car. But that might put me, the driver, to sleep...and that would be bad.
So this week I'm turning off the radio so we can have impromptu spelling bees and math equations while we're cruising around. Or, I'll talk to them in Spanish the entire time we're in the car and make them guess what I'm saying.
After a few days of that torture they'll be begging me to turn on the radio for some "mom music".
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I took my girls to a skating party this week. Walking into the rink brought back of flood of memories from my roller skating days at Pooh’s Park in College Station, Texas.
I remember doing the limbo. I remember doing the speed skate. I remember occasionally being asked to do the couple skate. I remember being jealous of the kids who had skates with the lights under the boots.
Those were the days. Good times.
But a lot has changed in 30 years.
For starters, about half of the kids were racing around the rink on Razor scooters. Other kids were cruising with inline skates. Only a few people had the traditional roller skates that I loved back in the late 70s and early 80s.
Of course the sound system is better now. The lights and special effects are definitely more high tech. But the arcade didn't have my favorites Ms Pacman and Frogger. And the snack bar didn't offer Frito Pie. Come to think of it, I don't think I've seen Frito Pie on a menu EVER here in Utah. (God Bless Texas!)
But the real difference was the music. It just ain’t what it used to be. There was no “Disco Inferno”. There was no “YMCA”. There was no “Whip It”.
Come on, people! These kids need some real skating tunes! How can today’s youth truly appreciate the skating experience with music by Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga?
It’s a shame. We may not be able to bring about world peace or solve the global economic crisis, but we can certainly improve the music being played at skating rinks today.
Unfortunately, I have no time to tackle this issue. Or any other issue, for that matter. My days are filled with office work and my evenings are packed with checking homework, doing laundry, and fulfilling church assignments. On the weekends I’m trying to cram in everything that didn’t get done in the week.I'm just trying to keep my head above water these days. It's been a crazy year and sanity doesn't appear to be headed my way any time soon.
I think I'll make an iPod playlist with all of my favorite roller skating disco tunes. That will make me feel better. Then next time I take the kids to the rink I can listen my personal "oldies but goodies" skating music. And perhaps I'll even sneak in a Frito Pie.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I feel compelled to do Christmas shopping. And I hate Christmas shopping. Loathe may be a better word to describe my attitude about the holiday shopping season.
I can’t stand the long lines. I detest the packed parking lots. I refuse to pay shipping & handling costs for online purchases. I will not get up at 4 a.m. to breakdown the doors of a big box store the day after Thanksgiving.
I just want to get it over with. My true “blue” personality wants to cross the task off of my checklist. If I could have all of the gifts stashed away in my super-secret hiding place by Halloween I would be quite content.
But that just won’t work. Why?
Because I have a hard time passing up a great deal. As much as I hate Christmas shopping, I’m a sucker for a good buy. And you and I both know that there are going to be some fabulous offers from retailers during the next two months.
If I get everything I was planning to purchase for Christmas before Halloween, do I have the self control to not buy anything else holiday-related for the next two months?
What if a super great deal comes along on Black Friday?
Perhaps one of my gotta-buy items will go on sale at a better price after Halloween?
On the other hand, if I don’t get it now will it be out-of-stock later?
Oh, the dilemma! I can feel the anxiety coursing through my veins! Quick…someone pass me a Xanax!
I know that I should just focus on “the reason for the season,” but it’s only October. It’s a bit too early to put out the nativity set (although I’ve seen those in the stores as well).
In my la-la land perfect world, I would forego all of the holiday shopping and gifts for a family vacation. We would hop on a plane December 23rd and head for the resorts of southern Mexico singing “Feliz Navidad” the whole way. Christmas day would be spent lounging in the white sand underneath a palm tree, my husband massaging my feet, my girls body-surfing the waves, and my cabana boy bringing me margaritas (non-alcoholic, of course).
Yet, the question remains. If I had my dream...a family Christmas vacation on the beach…could I (would I) resist the allure of bargain basement prices on “must-have” items that come along during the holiday shopping season?
It has become clear that I simply must take an exotic vacation beginning Columbus Day through the New Year’s Day holiday. Not only will I be more relaxed, but in the end it may be less expensive.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Did you know that Utah is last in terms of the percentage of female students enrolled in college?
I did not know that until this week. I was stunned. So I went online to learn more.
According to the Utah Women and Education Project (UWEP), 49 percent of higher education students in the state are women. However, national statistics show that 57 percent of college students are women. (Go here http://www.uvu.edu/wep/ for more info on their research.)
A recent report on KSL-TV in Salt Lake City stated that one part of the study’s early findings shows that cultural attitudes might be influencing young Utah women to skip higher education altogether. The perception among these women is they don’t plan on having a career after marriage.
Let me write that again…young women don’t PLAN having a career after marriage.
So what exactly is the PLAN for these young women?
How can a young woman possibly know what the next 50 or so years will bring?
Here are my thoughts regarding young women who want to forego a college education:
Thought #1: Have a personal financial plan that is more than a hope and a dream. And a back-up plan. And a back-up plan for your back-up plan. Have short-term and long-term plans.
Maybe you won’t get married. Maybe you’ll get married and it won’t last. Maybe you’ll be like me and not get married until you’re 27. Maybe you’ll marry an awesome guy that doesn’t get an awesome paycheck. Maybe you'll raise a family during the next great recession.
Guess what? A man is not a financial plan.
Thought #2: College brings about much more than a diploma.
Sure, a diploma is a great way to get a job. But it's much more than a piece of paper.
The societal benefits of a college education include a healthier lifestyle, increased community involvement, elevated interest in social issues, and crucial communications skills.
Societies with higher levels of education are safer and have less poverty. Research shows that educated women live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Thought #3: Cultural attitudes may need adjusting.
I may be making a BIG assumption here, but do cultural attitudes really mean the LDS faith when it comes to women in the workforce in Utah? (And yes, I consider myself among the active LDS.)
If that be the case, then why isn’t the “culture” embracing the counsel of our leaders when it comes to getting a college education?
President Gordeon B. Hickley Hinckley said in a talk to the youth of the LDS Church in November 2000 that they need to “Be Smart”. Below is a direct quote from the talk he gave 10 years ago:
“You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world.
[The Lord] wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives. And as you do so and as you perform honorably and with excellence, you will bring honor to the Church, for you will be regarded as a man or woman of integrity and ability and conscientious workmanship.
Be smart. The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you.”
If you are LDS (and even if you aren't) there is a church website that helps young people who are pursuing higher education. You can check it out at http://besmart.com/.
I do not want to ignore the fact that many women want to stay home with their children. Motherhood is a wonderful and noble profession. It's probably the most important job a woman can ever occupy. A college education can help you become a better mother because it helps you become a stronger person.
A study commissioned by the Utah System of Higher Education (UHSE) found that 99 percent of Utahns sampled believe that higher education is important. Yet, the same study showed that only 39 percent believe that females need a four-year degree or higher.
Why do we have such low of expectations for the young women in Utah when it comes to a college education?
Sad. Very sad.
We live in a country and in an era where women have every opportunity available to them to get a higher education, and so many young ladies just set it aside. There are women in parts of our world today who are maimed or even killed in their pursuit of a basic education…never mind a higher education.
We need women who have strong minds. We need women to become more involved in political and societal issues. We need women who are self-sufficient. We need women who can teach children and each other.
Let’s set a higher standard for our young women. If you are in a position of influence – a parent, a teacher, a coach, a religious leader, a caring neighbor – encourage the young ladies in your life to go to college.
In the words of President Hinckley:
“There can be no doubt, none whatever, that education pays. Do not short-circuit your lives. If you do so, you will pay for it over and over and over again.”
Thursday, October 7, 2010
The other night while I was making a quick dinner of quesadillas and tomato soup, my 8 year-old matter-of-factly said, “Stay-at-home moms usually make fancier dinners than working moms. Stuff we usually eat for dinner is what they eat for lunch.”
I know she didn’t mean to hit me with a guilt trip, but it landed straight between the eyes. Just as I was getting ready to respond with a comment about not having time to spend an hour making dinner after I get home from work, she asks:
“Why don’t stay-at-home moms fix their hair or put on make-up?”
The guilt-trip left as quickly as it came.
I’m rarely at a loss for words, but this was one of those moments when my mind went into overdrive while I was trying to figure out the best thing to say.
After all, on the weekends it’s not uncommon for me to be in my pajamas through mid-morning and not make myself “presentable” until mid-afternoon.
If I didn’t have to be dressed with hair done and make-up applied by 7:30 a.m. every day, would I?
I’d like to say “yes”, but the truthful answer is “probably not”…especially if the only people who were going to see me that day were my kids and some of their friends.
I managed to make some sort of reply like “Honey, sometimes moms get so busy at home they don’t have time to fix their own hair or put on make-up.”
Then my mind went to President Uchtdorf’s recent LDS conference talk on simplifying your life. For me, a working mom, simplifying my life means preparing quick dinners during the work week. For a stay-at-home mom, it may mean throwing their hair into pony tail and not worrying about make-up.
No need to feel guilty about either one.
Why make ourselves busy…fretting over things that are here today and gone tomorrow? We should free ourselves from those tasks that are not necessary in our day-to-day lives.
Leonardo da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
I think I’ll use that line next time I serve a not-so-gourmet dinner of mac-and-cheese with a side of apple sauce.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
For some reason we’ve literally adhered to the advice “Take A Hike.” In the last few months we’ve become a family of hikers. Long hikes and short hikes. Tough hikes and easy hikes. We actually even hiked in the winter this summer when we went below the equator on a family trip to Peru.
Here is a photo journal of our family hikes in 2010:
Grand Canyon, Arizona (North Rim):
Uinta Mountains, Utah (Mirror Lake):
Ensign Peak, Salt Lake City, Utah:
Silver Lake, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah:
Machu Picchu, Peru:
Waterfall Canyon, Ogden, Utah:
Adams Canyon, Layton, Utah:
Monday, September 27, 2010
If you haven’t been a victim of the economy in some way, shape or form in the last two years then you’re probably living on an island in la-la land. Even if your income has remained steady, I’m betting that the value of your home has dropped or your retirement plan has been rocked. The economic downfall has changed all the rules of the game.
My career is marketing. I’ve been working for financial services companies since 1998. It’s the “great recession” and I’m in the unique situation of trying to convince people they need a loan from my financial institution. I love a challenge, and I’ve got a big one.
Let’s face it...right now most people should not be taking on new debt. However, taking on a new loan doesn’t necessarily mean taking on new debt.
If you have a mortgage, if you have an auto loan, if you have a home equity line, if you have a credit card...take a few minutes and check out your rates. Chances are you can refinance those loans to a new lower rate and/or shorter term. If you choose the right financial institution, you can probably get balance transfer fees waived or closing costs reduced.
The other day I talked to a friend who will save $700 in interest over the life of her auto loan because she re-financed to a lower rate. Ka-Ching!
Refinancing a loan is not difficult. You can do most of the process over the phone or online. Trust me...financial institutions are more than eager to help bring your loan over from the competition. They will make it easy on you.
I’m a coupon clipper. I’m a thrift-store shopper. I’m a bargain hunter. I’d like to think that I’m a half-way decent negotiator. Take a little advice from a friendly blogger who loves a money-saving deal:
Spend a few minutes figuring out your existing loan rates and then research your refinancing options. After lowering your loan rates, apply the same amount of money each month to your loan payments that you have been paying all along. Not only will you save big money on interest, but you’ll also pay off your loan sooner!
(Watch out Suze Orman…I’m after your job!)
(But if you need a sidekick, just let me know.)
Friday, September 24, 2010
Unfortunately, trail mix has a disproportionate amount of raisins and peanuts compared to my favorites. Such is life.
My momma never said that “Life is like a bag of trail mix.” But I just did. And I’m a momma.
There are the sweet moments like family vacations and holiday celebrations. There are the savory moments like job promotions and buying a new house. And then there are boring moments. Lots of them. Actually, they seem much longer than moments. Hours, days or even weeks filled with necessary yet unexciting activities and responsibilities.
As you may have guessed, I’m dealing with the post-vacation blues. We’ve been home less than two weeks and I’m already thinking that we need to go somewhere. Soon. But then I look at our personal financial statement and remember we’re outta money because of the 11-day trip we just took to Peru. In the trail mix of life, that vacation was a ginormous bag of M&M’s.
So my life has returned to raisins and peanuts. I’m not complaining. We never slow down long enough for things to get stale. Just throw me a few M&M’s, cashews and almonds every so often and I’ll be fine.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
– Jean Nidetch
A few weeks ago I was with a group of career women discussing work/life issues. Almost immediately, one of the ladies said, “I don’t know how to respond when someone asks, ‘How can you leave your children every day and go to work?’”
For the love of Pete! How absurd is that question?
Why must some people make it sound as if us working moms treat our kids like cats? (“I just give them plenty of food and water before I leave the house and they’re fine…they don’t even miss me!”)
Most women work for the same reason that men work…to provide for our families; not because we dislike spending time with our children or because we’re feeding a shoe fetish. In addition to bringing home the bacon, many women work because they are darn good at what they do and enjoy it.
Notice that men never get asked about leaving their children to go to work. Even when they have a garage full of toys and spend every weekend on the golf course, if they hold down a full-time job and get a regular paycheck they are considered a responsible husband and father.
If you are plagued with the question, do NOT respond, “I don’t have a choice.”
If you have enough freedom in your life to read this blog, then you have a choice.
Absolutely and positively you have a choice.
Getting (and staying) married is a choice. Having children is a choice. Where you live is a choice.
If you love your spouse, and the two of you have children, then you need to make some big decisions. (Kind of like choices within your choice.)
- Where are you going to live? Rent or own or move in with your parents? How about staying in a van down by the river?
- How are you going provide the basic necessities of life? What about health insurance? What about retirement?
- Where will your children go to school? What about college? Missions?
- How will you help your children develop their talents? Do they have special needs?
- What are your childcare options?
- What kind of career are you qualified for? Your spouse?
- Do you have an adequate number of shoes in your closet? (just kidding…needed to lighten up for a second)
- Do your financial needs/wants require one or two incomes?
- If your family requires one income, who will work?
- If your family requires two incomes, how do you coordinate schedules?
- Are you willing to give up your discretionary time? Discretionary income?
- Can you stick to a budget? How’s your credit?
- Who does the cooking? Cleaning? Laundry? Yardwork? Carpool? Parent-teacher conferences? Pediatrician visits?
The choices and decisions go on and on.
Choose what is right for you and your family.
Do not compare your situation to others.
Always remember: Each person and each family has unique circumstances.
You do not have the same spouse.
You do not have the same children, with the same ages, and the same needs.
You do not have the same education levels and skills.
You do not have the same opportunities and challenges.
You probably do not even have all of the same goals.
But you DO have a choice. And I recommend that you choose to do what's best for you and ignore anyone who asks you to justify your choices.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Traveling all over the country was great fun when I was single. I had every loyalty card known to man, so I would get upgrades to first class, free upgrades on rental cars, and awesome perks at the hotels.
After I was married, business trips weren't as much fun. So what if I had row 7 seats behind 3rd base at the first-ever Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball game? I wanted to be home with my man. (I know, I know...it's kinda sappy. After all, I was a newlywed. But I must say, 12+ years later I still feel the same way.)
It got worse after I had kids. MUCH WORSE. I was traveling less at this point, but I HATED any business trip. Each time I had to go I had an emotional meltdown. I would feel tremendous guilt and get very anxious. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic...and that was before I would leave town! I would arrive at the airport with red, puffy eyes from crying the entire way from home.
Funny thing is that I found out later that some people in my office thought I was intimidating. (LOL!) If they could have only seen my oh-so-not-professional, homesick moments while on the road.
I felt SO INCREDIBLY GUILTY about leaving my baby. I was already dealing with the working-mom guilt that came from putting my child in daycare, so going on a business trip was just adding fuel to the fire. I was a mess.
An interesting side note, I felt just as guilty the first time I left our daughter to go away for an anniversary weekend with my husband. In fact, I probably felt MORE GUILTY because I was going away on an optional vacation and not a mandatory business trip.
I'm 40 years-old, and I've just recently figured out the difference between GUILT and ANXIETY. I no longer feel guilty about my life as a working mom. In fact, I really enjoy having a career.
I have learned so much about people and relationships through my job. Working full-time has forced me to become a more balanced person. I know what matters most, and that's how I plan each and every day. There's little room for fluff.
Anxious about being away from the kids? Yes, I still feel anxious. But if you know me, then you know that I get anxious about the kids getting off at the right bus stop every day. It's the normal I'm-a-mom-so-it's-my-right-to-be-anxious kind of anxiety.
I've stopped the guilt trips. Nothing good comes from them anyway. And honestly, I can't function on sleepless nights. I have way too many things to do!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
The moment that I think of my job, or any sort of responsibility enters into my mind, I dismiss it without guilt. Without any cares. Without any worries. Without any stress.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
We followed the bus up to the school so we could walk her to class. When we met her on the sidewalk, she promptly told me "No mom...Lauren (her 3rd grade sister) will take me to class."
"Please?" I begged. Pathetic, yes...but I really wanted that mommy moment.
I would expect no less from my super-independent five year-old. After a few minutes of pleading, she agreed that we could walk her to class.
A couple more photos, and she sent us on our way. Mom and Dad were no longer necessary. Jenna had fulfilled her obligation to let us fuss over her on this big day, and she wanted nothing else to do with us for the next 3 hours.
I held it together. My voice only cracked once as the tears welled-up in my eyes. I'm determined to be as strong as my five year-old.
But I can't stop thinking about her! How I wish that I could be a fly on the wall in that Kindergarten class today!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I work full-time outside of the home, so regardless of the month on the calendar I’m up at 6 a.m., out the door by 8 a.m., and don’t return until 6 p.m. During the school year, I head straight home to make dinner, inspect backpacks, check homework, give baths, get clothes ready for the next day, and put the kids to bed by 8:30 p.m.
But the summer is different. Aaaaahhhh...the summer.
In the summer, we don’t rush through our evenings, checking items off a task list. If we don’t have dinner ‘til 8:00 it’s no big deal.
Backpacks? Homework? Bedtime? Fuhgettabout it.
(Smelly, dirty kids do require strictly enforced nightly baths...even in the summer.)
With a 40-hour work week I may not get to enjoy the lazy days of summer, but I do love my easy-going evenings in June, July and August.
Today when I dropped off my 8 year-old at her first day of third grade, I had to hold back the tears as I walked back to my car. I always get emotional on the first day of school. And it's not because I won’t spend the next several hours with her. Regretfully, being away from my kids all day long is nothing new for me. It’s the milestone in the moment.
But in all honesty, I think some of my emotion comes from the fact that it’s the-beginning-of-the-end of summer.
I have enough structure in my life during the work day. I need flexible evenings where we can focus on fun and relaxing family time. I need time to unwind from a hectic work day. Nothing puts office politics and projects into perspective than hanging out with my kids. They are the balancing force in my life.
And when I say "force", I mean that literally.
Just tonight my 5 year-old had an self-induced, accidental overdose of Triaminic for her little cough. There's nothing like a frantic call to poison control on behalf of your child to help you realize what's really important.
Fortunately all is well. Unfortunately, it will probably just get crazier from this point forward.
Good-bye lazy summer evenings. We had a great time together while it lasted.
Hello schoolwork and bedtime. Please don’t be offended that I’m not happy to see you.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Without our knowledge, our daughter wrote a return letter to her new teacher. She put it in an envelope, sealed, addressed and stamped it before my husband and I even knew what was going on.
I found the sealed letter on the kitchen counter, so I asked her what it was about.
Me: Did you write a letter to your new teacher?
Lauren: Yes. She sent us a letter so I thought that I’d write her back.
Me: That’s nice of you. What did you write about in the letter?
Lauren: I just told her about me, what I like to do, and that I’m excited to meet her too.
I don’t know why I think that’s so funny, but I do. After all, what third grader just writes their new teacher a letter the week before school starts?
As my husband said, obviously our child is trying to "get in good" with the teacher from the get-go.
And I suppose it’s in her genes. After all, Public Relations is a BIG part of my career. But this wasn’t a calculated PR move. This wasn’t even the result of parental encouragement to charm a new teacher. It was a sincere letter from a young student to her new teacher.
I’ve been known to say that everything...every event...every statement...every action...is a PR move. All of our communication – verbal, electronic, body language, appearance – all of it reflects who we are and what we want others to believe about us. Rarely does someone say or do something publicly with absolutely no regard of how it will be perceived by others.
Unless you’re 8 years-old. If you’re 8, then you simply write your teacher a letter telling her that you’re excited to start school because you truly are excited to start school. Nothing complicated. That’s it. What you see is what you get.
Monday, August 16, 2010
I didn’t think it was a huge departure from how I normally dress for work until this comment from my 8 year-old this morning.
Lauren: Wow Mom, you look like an office lady today.
Me: Well, that’s good because I work in an office. How do I usually look?
Lauren: Not like that.
If you need an ego boost, don’t look to your kids. It’s not that they are trying to keep you grounded...they just haven’t developed that "politically correct" filter that keeps us out of trouble as adults.
And aren’t we glad. As working professionals, we need someone to be brutally honest and give it to us straight.
I had a CEO of a company tell me once that only her teenage kids truly tell her "how it is" when it comes to her presentation style. Of course, I agreed. (And not just because that was the politically correct thing to do.)
Giving feedback to co-workers can be such a tricky thing at the office. We want to appear smart, yet thoughtful; well-informed, yet open to ideas.
Is that how it is at home around the kitchen table with kids? Not at my house!
I can’t recall my kids ever saying: "Mom, I really appreciate the fact that you’re helping us eat healthier with this big bowl of steamed broccoli. And it’s obvious that you spent a lot of time preparing this amazing dinner. However, I need some time to consider the broccoli option. Can I think it over and get back to you tomorrow?"
A more likely scenario at our house: "Gross! I hate broccoli! Don’t get it near me or I’ll gag. Did you really think I'd want to eat that awful stuff?"
I love my kids. They keep me humble. My girls let me know how I can be a better person without any concern for political correctness. And if their brutal honesty hurts my feelings, then they are getting a big bowl of steamed broccoli for dinner!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
The only problem with visiting the bunnies is that they’re usually busy...if you know what I mean. Honestly, I don’t think two rabbits can co-exist in a cage without some sort of assault taking place.
Such was the case Thursday night. After work, I picked up the girls from daycare and we drove over to the fair. We were having a great time looking at the adorable bunnies when a couple of rabbits started doing what they’re famous for.
There I am, having a fun, semi-educational moment with my children and "Thumper" starts going for it. I guess that we saw a bit more of an "exhibit" than we bargained for at the fair.
I think that I’ll recommend to the fair organizers that they post a disclaimer before entering the area.
WARNING: What you are about to see could be disturbing and not appropriate for children or their "city-girl" mothers.
Fortunately, I was able to distract my daughters with some chickens on the other side of the aisle. Unfortunately, that act became a distraction to everyone else in the building because my four year-old who is terrified of chickens started screaming.
We quickly moved on and went past the hogs located in the next shed. I am happy to report that "Wilbur" and his pals were not participating in any inappropriate activities. They looked quite content just laying around in the straw and mud, stinking up the joint.
Obscene rabbits. Scary chickens. Smelly pigs. What else could a mother and her daughters ask for on a girls’ night out?
In the end, the evening was a success with the help of some snow cones, temporary tattoos and a first place sticker on my eight year-old daughter’s artwork in the Junior Crafts division.
Next time we're looking for some mother-daughter bonding, I think we’ll just go shopping.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
It was bound to happen. After all, I did have my 40th birthday earlier this year. And as I'm learning from my aches and pains, 40 is more than just a number.
It’s the sort of perspective when someone is making a mountain out of a mole hill and you think to yourself..."this is really unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Take a few steps back and look at the big picture."
It reminds me of when I finally delivered the blow about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy to my oldest daughter. She was devastated. Tears flowed freely. It was a somber day at the Windley house.
It’s been several months since that dark day, and now we both look back at it and laugh. She no longer believes that the world is a horrible, cruel place where parents lie to their children about flying reindeer and fairies. She’s in on the big secret, and she’s playing along for her younger sister.
I remember early in my career thinking that I was being treated unfairly because a co-worker with my same job title and responsibilities earned a higher salary than me. Even though she had ten years of experience to my two years on the job, I felt the company was taking advantage of me. Now that I’m 16+ years into my career, I realize that I was wrong. Experience counts.
This crazy thing we call life is full of certain uncertainty. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking on a proverbial earthquake...unsure of where the ground is going to move next. In the past couple of years I’ve had several experiences, both personal and professional, that I didn’t see coming. Perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention. Or maybe I wasn’t "in tune" with my spiritual side. It could be that I’m a couple of cards short of a full deck.
I believe that certain uncertainty is God’s way of keeping us humble. Just when we think we have things figured out, the wind changes direction and we have to adjust our sails. If you choose to fight the wind, it will rip your sails and you’ll sink. (Dramatic, I know...but I’m trying to make a point.)
Life is just a bowl of cherries. Or chair of bowlies. Or something like that.
Someone said "Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. And It’s All Small Stuff." And he wrote a book about it. And he made a lot of money with that book. If you’re sweating, then you need to read that book.
Perspective. I wasn’t looking for it, but apparently it was looking for me. Now that I have it, I hope that it sticks around.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
“Mom, your bum is fat.”
“Dad, you have a hairy back.”
“Mom, you have lines on your face.”
“Dad, your teeth are yellow.”
To be a parent, you need to just roll with the punches. If you’re easily offended, parenting is not the job for you.
The same holds true for a career in marketing. If you can’t stand the heat, then you may want to check if there are any openings available in the accounting department. (Not that I don’t L-O-V-E the accounting team...you’re an awesome group of number-crunching geniuses!)
In my life there are rare private moments when I’m not parenting or marketing. I’m simply me. Like today...for a few moments I got away from the office to enjoy lunch with myself and my Blackberry.
Just as I get ready to dive into my burrito, an older gentleman in the next booth turns around, points to his friend, and said:
“He thinks you look like a prettier version of Ellen DeGeneres. Has anyone ever told you that before?”
Stunned, yet trying to be gracious, I responded:
“No…but thanks for the compliment.”
In my mind, I’m thinking: “Is that a compliment? I think so. Isn’t Ellen a CoverGirl spokesperson? You have to be pretty to sell make-up. How old is Ellen? I just turned 40...I’m sure Ellen is older than me. Wait a minute…isn’t Ellen a lesbian? Am I okay with a strange man telling me I look like someone who is a lesbian? Does it matter? No, it doesn’t matter...I’m fine with it. Hey, Ellen is a super successful talk-show host. I’m successful too...but not nearly on the level of Ellen. Do I look successful? After all, I’m professionally dressed. Doesn’t Ellen usually wear sneakers on her show? I’m wearing black sandals with high heels...and I really need to get a pedicure. Ellen is funny…me, not so much. I wonder how Ellen would feel about the comparison. She probably wouldn’t be too thrilled...I’m much chubbier than Ellen. Why would that man say I look like Ellen? Does he need glasses? He is old. Much older than me...and Ellen.”
How could a simple statement completely throw me into an oblivion of over analysis?
Why couldn’t I just take his remark for what it was...a compliment?
I’ll tell my kids they need to keep saying to me whatever comes their minds. Apparently, I still need to learn how to roll with the punches. As for my career...perhaps I should check what is available in the accounting department.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
The tribe greeted my parents in their native dress...which turned out to be not much dress at all. In their culture, "less is more," and both the men and women simply wear skirts that go to about mid-thigh. Kids, prior to puberty, go al fresco.
The tribe warmly welcomed my parents...inviting my mom to dance with the women and making my dad an honorary tribal elder. My parents emailed us details and photos of their incredible visit to the Amazon.
Me: "Hey kids...come look at the photos that grandma sent us from their trip to the Amazon."
The family gathers around the computer to check out the pictures, and we get to a fuzzy photo of my mother dancing in a circle with the women. My daughters, ages eight and four, were not exactly sure what to make of the photo.
Me: What do you think of grandma dancing with those ladies?
Lauren (8): Those aren't ladies, they are men.
Me (pointing at their chests): I'm pretty sure they are ladies.
Lauren (confused): No mom, I think they are men.
Jenna (4, confident): Mom, they are men 'cause they don't shirts on.
Husband: (unable to comment because he is laughing so hard).
In my daughters' defense, the photo was fuzzy AND the defining female attributes of the tribe members had suffered from years of non-support.
Two lessons quickly learned:
1) If you want to be considered a lady, you need to keep your shirt on; and,
2) "Victoria's Secret" does not have a storefront on the Amazon.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
As we drove through town, my eight year-old realized something wasn’t quite…normal.
Lauren: “Mom, why are those ladies wearing long dresses when it’s so hot outside?”
Me: “That’s how the ladies dress in this town.”
Lauren: “They look like pioneers.”
Lauren: “And all the men dress like cowboys.”
Lauren: “Hey Dad, I bet you’d like to live in this town because all the men get to dress like cowboys.”
A few seconds of silence…followed by my husband and me laughing hysterically.
Let it be said that we’re laughing at my daughter’s expense because she doesn’t understand what is going on in this town.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hildale/Arizona City, it’s a religious community that practices polygamy (meaning, a man can have more than one wife). The people in that area adhere to strict standards and guidelines in every facet of their lives…including how they dress.
Of course our daughter demanded to know what was so funny, so my husband gave her an age-appropriate answer about the community and some of their beliefs.
Lauren: “Sounds like Warren Jeffs and his followers.”
I was surprised that Lauren knew so much about this subject. (Are the teachings of Warren Jeffs included in the second grade curriculum?)
Sometimes it’s just easier at the office. When I’m at work, I don’t have to answer tough questions such as:
“Where do babies come from?” or,
“Is Santa Claus real?” or,
“Why do women wear long, ugly dresses when it's 105 degrees outside?”
A college degree and 16 years of professional experience do not prep you for raising kids and responding to their questions.
If my company needs a press release explaining the benefits and features of a new product, then I’m your person.
If my child wants an explanation about how a hen determines if an egg she lays turns into a baby chick or a breakfast omelet, then I’m a little uncomfortable!
Yikes…maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to drive through Hildale/Arizona City after all.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
“Just in case” the girls needed me, I left the bathroom door open. Within two minutes after settling into the tub, my four year-old daughter walked into the room.
Jenna: “Hey mom…are you taking a bath?”
Me (sigh): “Yes.”
Jenna: “Why are you taking a bath mom?”
Me: “It was a crazy day.”
Even when I’m relaxing, I feel the need to be somewhat productive. So I had the shave gel and razor sitting on the side of the tub.
Jenna: “Hey mom…are you going to shave your legs?
Jenna: “I know how to shave legs.”
Me (surprised): “Really? How?”
Jenna: “Push the button on the can. The stuff comes out and you put it on your legs so you can take the hair off with your razor.”
I’ll admit that shaving one’s legs isn’t rocket science, but I was curious as to how my four year-old could describe the leg-shaving process since I was pretty sure she’d never watched me do it.
Me: “How do you know all that?”
Jenna: “TV. It’s on the commercials.”
This is one of those moments where my work/life balance goes completely outta whack.
The mother-in-me thinks: “Good grief…my four year-old has figured out how to shave her legs by watching the dumb TV. What else is she learning from boob tube?”
On the other hand, the marketing-professional-in-me thinks: “Wow…TV advertising really works! My four year-old recognizes the product and understands its functionality simply from watching television.”
So there I am…sitting in the tub…where I’m supposed to be relaxing. What am I thinking about? The good and the bad that comes along with TV advertising. And how my career perpetuates product promotion and education in the lives of everyday people.
On the one hand, I don’t want advertisers influencing my family. I want to control what they see and hear.
On the other hand, I want my company’s advertising to influence everyone else. I have an important message that needs to break through the clutter!
Am I living a double standard?
In some way, shape or form…aren’t we all selling something?
We’re probably not selling shave gel. But we’re all selling a product, or service, or an idea, or a way of life, or a philosophy. We’re probably not all promoting on TV either. But we’re promoting via social media or in community gatherings or perhaps even good old-fashioned face-to-face conversations.
And if you don’t think anyone is paying attention to your messages, both verbal or non-verbal, then think again.
Just ask your young kids if they can explain to you how to shave your legs.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
What I've been thinking about (again) is going back to school to get an MBA.
As strange as it may seem, I want to find out what I already know. I graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts degree from BYU in 1994 (Communications major and Business minor). I'm not sure what I really learned with that degree other than how to write papers and how to work in groups with people I don't particularly like.
Actually...both skills have proven to be very valuable during my career.
Much more enlightening than my college education is the subsequent 16 years of professional experience in the Marketing/Advertising/PR/Communications world. In particular, I've spent the last 11 years in financial services marketing...five years on the bank side and six years on the credit union side.
(And yes, believe me, they are two very different sides.)
So I want to find out what my Bachelor's Degree and 16 years of professional experience has not taught me.
Would I go to school and be completely lost because it's been so long since I've been in the classroom?
Or, would I kick-butt and get a 4.0 without any problem? (After all, there was no Internet when I went to college the first time. How hard could it be now?)
I guess there's only one way to find out.
I hate excuses, but there are some very good reasons that I'm not applying for MBA school at the moment.
The first two reasons have names: 1) Lauren; and, 2) Jenna. These two adorable girls call me "mom" and I cherish our time together. I already work full-time outside of the home, so taking another 10 hours in class plus study time just doesn't seem fair to my little chicas.
The third and fourth reasons: 3) Time; and, 4) Money. As previously mentioned, I already work a 40-hour week. And money...tuition costs are sky-high. I'd have to raid our girls' college funds to simply pay for the first semester.
The fifth and six reasons: 5) Writing more papers; and, 6) Working in groups with more people I don't particularly like. As much fun as that was the first time around, I actually get paid to do those things now. (Not that I don't just L-O-V-E all of my co-workers. They are great people! Hi guys!)
Looks like I'll be waiting a bit longer to find out what I already know.