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Reno Moms Blog: Happy First Day of School, Moms!

12 Aug

A second grader and a preschooler, with the extra treat of Grandma being in town to see them off!

A second grader and a preschooler, with the extra treat of Grandma being in town to see them off!

It’s back-to-school day.  The day when all of us make sure the kids are scrubbed extra clean, their hair is perfectly neat, they have new backpacks, and we snap an adorable picture to commemorate the day.

When I was a kid, I didn’t realize how much my mom was doing to prepare for back to school. Now I get it.  Just this past week, I’ve been finding out my daughter’s teacher (and talking around my local mom network to determine that teacher’s reputation), shopping for the back to school supplies designated by that teacher, buying a new backpack, making a mental note to determine if the bus stop location has changed, and arranging for after school care and after school activities.

Click here to read the entire post at the Reno Moms Blog.

Reno Moms Blog: I Don’t Know How She Does It

8 Jul

Have you read the book or seen the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It? It’s a story about a high powered New York working mom and how she juggles the working motherhood gig. I really enjoyed the book up until the last chapter, where (spoiler alert) the main character quit her job and decided to be a stay at home mom.

In other words, I Don’t Know How She Does It should have been titled She Really Can’t Do It. The ending made me livid.

Maybe Hollywood doesn’t think us women can balance work and motherhood, but there are plenty of us working moms “doing it” daily. That is the subject of my latest post over at the Reno Moms Blog — how I manage to balance the two and keep relatively sane. Go check it out!

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Chaos. Utter Chaos.

17 May

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So we got a dog.  A puppy.  Because life wasn’t chaotic enough with my full time job and two young kids.  Whose idea was this?!

Mine, of course.   There haven’t been many years in my life where I haven’t had a dog.  Since meeting my husband, we went from having three large black dogs that we dubbed the Black Dog Club, and over the years, the club dwindled down to our dear Shadow, who passed in December.

It just felt a bit lonely, and the kids really wanted a dog.  I truly think it is good for kids to grow up with a dog.  So, the negotiating began between me and JB…  First was the negotiation of the breed of dog, on which we had very differing opinions, except when it came to his suggestion of a Rottweiler.  When I met JB, he had an awesome Rottweiler named Heidi, and I fell in love with that dog.  She died when my daughter was a baby.

Anyway, last week, we finally decided to get a 5 month old Rottweiler puppy.  Of course, then the negotiations on names began.  JB was adamant he wanted to name her Elsa, and I wanted to name her Bella, so we compromised after about 48 hours of stand-offs and named her Ella Bella.

The first week, she was super well behaved and we were concerned at how calm she was.  Ha!  She has now made herself at home, and the chaos has ensued.  Potty training a dog with kids in the house is just awesome…  Like when my son locks her in his room or mine and then she messes in there.  This morning, even though she had peed and pooped outside, as I was getting ready, the dog peed and pooped upstairs with the kids.

She loves to eat my daughter’s toys.  She loves to chew on long, flowing dresses as you walk by, which is the dress of choice for my daughter, so this has caused many tears.

Last night, I had a neighbor come visit.  A neighbor who never had kids, but loves them.  I was a bit embarrassed at her seeing the reality of my life right now…  That I fed the kids while unloading groceries, and made dinner for myself,  but every time I tried to sit down to eat it, someone needed something from me, or the dog got into something, etc.  I swear I sat down to eat my dinner about five times and was interrupted before I could actually sit and consume it.  I tried to have a conversation with this dear neighbor as my daughter attempted to do homework (needing tons of help) and my son was, well being a 3 year old boy with tantrums and demands slung into the midst of our conversation.  Add to that the dog jumping on the furniture and running around with toys, and I swear I couldn’t finish a single thought without being interrupted and having to go intervene in some…  SITUATION.

I am literally exhausted.  A few weeks ago, I started to wonder is something wrong with me? Why am I exhausted all the time?  But then the voice of reason kicks in, and I remind myself how much is on my plate.  It is everything I ever wanted, and I know I will look back and miss these years when they pass, but having two young kids and a full time job and volunteering at school and in the community and trying to keep in shape and cook healthy meals…  It is a lot.  I think back to my days in college where my only responsibility was myself, and laugh at how I thought I was busy then.  Almost every day this week, I have fallen asleep while tucking a kid into their bed, and I then stumble down to my own bed, just to start it all over the next morning.

I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.  I love having my plate full.  I just wish I could clone myself!  Here is a picture of my full plate…  How did I ever get so lucky?!

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Not A Morning Boy

23 Oct

My husband isn’t a morning person.  It appears my son isn’t, either.

This morning, I needed to get him to preschool and myself to work early to have a call with a woman in Paris.  (Side note — after I told her I studied French for six years, she asked if I wanted to conduct the call in French.  Um, no, I had to explain I learned French while living in New Mexico, and hence I’m not very good at speaking it!)

I woke up early, got breakfast made for the kids and lunches packed, and then opened the shades in Little Man’s room to start to wake him up.  He groaned, and I went to take my shower.  When I emerged from getting ready, I could hear him screaming.  Not sure about what.  But basically, he was pitching a fit.

I had hoped that my daughter and husband would make sure he at least got up and ate his breakfast, but no, he wasn’t in the mood for it.  Today was “wear black” day at school, so I had his outfit picked out.  He hated my outfit choice (a black Giants jersey in honor of the Giant’s win last night as well).  He ran around in his underwear, and at this point, I know I need to leave NOW or be late and frazzled for my call.

I picked him up like a football, gathered his breakfast into a Tupperware, and grabbed his clothes and shoes in my other hand.  I tried getting him to the car, and he pulled that move where they go completely limp so that he could slide out of my arms.

Luckily, at this point, my hubby offered to take him, as we were all seeing this was spiraling downhill quick.

If he is this hard to wake up at 3, what will he be like at 13?!

Self Criticism

22 Oct

So I recently won an award that required me to do a video interview.  I haven’t been in front of the camera much, but am comfortable public speaking, so I wasn’t nervous about this.  I received the questions in advance, and watched the previous year’s video, and I think that is where I went wrong.

I thought too much about my answers.  In fact, there were 20 of us doing video interviews, and I ended up being the 19th person interviewed.  It was 8pm, I was exhausted and had blood shot eyes after a long day at work, and I think I ended up answering my questions with answers that I thought would be more interesting or funny than my genuine thoughts.  I think I also experienced that phenomenon where your brain blanks out, and I have literally been kicking myself for my silly answers ever since.  Anyway, I literally couldn’t sleep that night, because I was kicking myself over my silly answers.

1.    Tell us briefly what you do. What does a typical day look like?

My video answer:  I hop on my treadmill desk and talk to people all across the world about online advertising.

My real answer:  (face smack)  God, why did I say that part about the treadmill desk?  I am such a dork.  OK, the rest is true, but there are also the hundreds of daily emails and a LOT of meetings. Also, my real day starts with the chaos of getting two kids up, fed, lunches packed, and trying to get myself into work on time.  Once I leave work, I shift gears, get the kids, cook dinner, help with homework, read to kids, get kids ready for bed and often fall asleep in one of their beds while I’m tucking them in because I’m so tired.  But us working moms are afraid to admit that at times.  So I just talked about the talking to people all across the world, which is cool, but such a small fraction of the real picture.

 

2.    What are your passions outside of work? (volunteer work, personal passions)

My video answer: My kids are my number one passion.  Outside of my kids, I do volunteer work to support Washoe County School District.

My real answer: (another face smack): Really?!  People are going to think I’m boring because of course my kids are my passion.  I didn’t mention skiing, open water swimming, blogging, reading, baking REAL fresh food for my family…  It’s also my passion to teach my kids skiing and swimming.

3.    What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My video answer: To have a vision.  In my early 30s, I discovered I had realized my vision, so now I’m working on the vision for the next phase of my life.

My real answer:  Well, yeah.  But I didn’t mention that that secondary vision has been perplexing for me.  I want to get my work back to my creative passions, but creative passions don’t pay as well or provide great healthcare.  I also came across about 50 articles this weekend about people getting “the best advice”, feeling like fate was just taunting my answer.

4.    At first glance most people don’t know about you …

My video answer: That I’m a budding author, and I’m writing a children’s book series.

My real answer:  OK, so this is true, but it feels a bit like stepping onto a stage naked.  I hadn’t even mentioned that on my blog.  So, hey, blog readers, I’m writing children’s books!  That’s one reason I’ve been a slacker blogger recently.  More on that later, but last week I hired an editor, and I have two books ready for editing with drafts of the cover art.  Working on that “vision” I mentioned in the previous answer.  Why am I shy about this?  Not sure, but can’t take it back now!

5.    If you could travel anywhere in time, where would you go and why? My video answer:  Dinosaurs.  I would want to go see dinosaurs and the world before humans got a hold of it.

My real answer:  Dinosaurs?!  Yeah, that’d be cool, and maybe that will make for a funny sound bite, but really, my authentic answer would have been that I’d like to go back and see the world (or the United States) when my grandparents were young.  I’m so intrigued by the 1920s-1940s, and have read tons of historical fiction from that era and watched all kids of movies and TV shows.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t get much adult time with my grandparents to talk to them about their lives.  I’ve also been really into researching my family tree, and am just so curious about my roots.  But that answer didn’t feel cool.  So I went with dinosaurs.  Which really, is probably the antithesis of cool.

*sigh*

Bravo, Anne-Marie Slaughter

22 Jun

Driving home last night at 9:30 pm, I heard an NPR interview with Anne-Marie Slaughter.  She was talking about the challenge of being a working mother with a high powered career.

I came home and read the article on NPR’s website, which then linked to an essay that she wrote.  This essay is brilliant.  It outlines all of the struggles I have had since becoming a mother and trying to keep the wheels turning on the career and at home.  She also puts things in perspective — that women in my generation can have careers of up to 50 years.  Wow.  She says there will be periods of plateau, periods where you turn down work that will be too demanding or will require too much travel.  But there will be plenty of time after the kids are out of the house for upward trajectory and focusing on the career.

For all my working mother peeps, I highly recommend you read this essay: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/why-women-still-can-8217-t-have-it-all/9020/?single_page=true

Some of my favorite quotes are listed below.  Thank you, Anne Marie Slaughter, for putting the spotlight on these issues. (Alternating bold and regular font to make the separate quotes more apparent.)

“I still strongly believe that women can “have it all” (and that men can too). I believe that we can “have it all at the same time.” But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. “

“What we discovered in our research is that while the empowerment part of the equation has been loudly celebrated, there has been very little honest discussion among women of our age about the real barriers and flaws that still exist in the system despite the opportunities we inherited.”

“…the proposition that women can have high-powered careers as long as their husbands or partners are willing to share the parenting load equally (or disproportionately) assumes that most women will feel as comfortable as men do about being away from their children, as long as their partner is home with them. In my experience, that is simply not the case. “

“The culture of “time macho”—a relentless competition to work harder, stay later, pull more all-nighters, travel around the world and bill the extra hours that the international date line affords you—remains astonishingly prevalent among professionals today. Nothing captures the belief that more time equals more value better than the cult of billable hours afflicting large law firms across the country and providing exactly the wrong incentives for employees who hope to integrate work and family. Yet even in industries that don’t explicitly reward sheer quantity of hours spent on the job, the pressure to arrive early, stay late, and be available, always, for in-person meetings at 11 a.m. on Saturdays can be intense. Indeed, by some measures, the problem has gotten worse over time: a study by the Center for American Progress reports that nationwide, the share of all professionals—women and men—working more than 50 hours a week has increased since the late 1970s.

But more time in the office does not always mean more “value added”—and it does not always add up to a more successful organization.”

“While employers shouldn’t privilege parents over other workers, too often they end up doing the opposite, usually subtly, and usually in ways that make it harder for a primary caregiver to get ahead. Many people in positions of power seem to place a low value on child care in comparison with other outside activities. Consider the following proposition: An employer has two equally talented and productive employees. One trains for and runs marathons when he is not working. The other takes care of two children. What assumptions is the employer likely to make about the marathon runner? That he gets up in the dark every day and logs an hour or two running before even coming into the office, or drives himself to get out there even after a long day. That he is ferociously disciplined and willing to push himself through distraction, exhaustion, and days when nothing seems to go right in the service of a goal far in the distance. That he must manage his time exceptionally well to squeeze all of that in.

Be honest: Do you think the employer makes those same assumptions about the parent? Even though she likely rises in the dark hours before she needs to be at work, organizes her children’s day, makes breakfast, packs lunch, gets them off to school, figures out shopping and other errands even if she is lucky enough to have a housekeeper—and does much the same work at the end of the day.”

“Average life expectancy for people in their 20s has increased to 80; men and women in good health can easily work until they are 75. They can expect to have multiple jobs and even multiple careers throughout their working life. Couples marry later, have kids later, and can expect to live on two incomes. They may well retire earlier—the average retirement age has gone down from 67 to 63—but that is commonly “retirement” only in the sense of collecting retirement benefits. Many people go on to “encore” careers.

Assuming the priceless gifts of good health and good fortune, a professional woman can thus expect her working life to stretch some 50 years, from her early or mid-20s to her mid-70s. It is reasonable to assume that she will build her credentials and establish herself, at least in her first career, between 22 and 35; she will have children, if she wants them, sometime between 25 and 45; she’ll want maximum flexibility and control over her time in the 10 years that her children are 8 to 18; and she should plan to take positions of maximum authority and demands on her time after her children are out of the house.”

Bad Mom

12 Jan

Oh, what a morning it was.

Everything started normal.  I woke up to the sound of the kids chattering happily in the living room.  I go out to see them, exchange hugs, get Little Man dressed and oversee Little Miss getting dressed.  I then ask them what they want for breakfast, and pour out the cereal and milk that they selected.

That’s when things started to go downhill.

“I want MORE milk,”  Little Man whined.  He does this practically every morning, wanting more of something he hasn’t yet started to eat, and I know darn well he will likely not eat more than I originally give him.

“Eat what I gave you, and then I’ll give you more,” I responded.

That launched him into a tantrum.

Right about that time, Little Miss was asking me questions and I was mindlessly trying to answer them while starting to get lunches ready.

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” she yelled at me.

I honestly didn’t know.  I was on auto-pilot, not yet completely awake, and my whole mind was fogged by the tantrum raging a few feet away from me.

I told her I couldn’t remember what I said, and she kept demanding me to tell her what THAT WORD meant.

“What word?”  I ask.

“That one that I didn’t know.”

“I don’t know which word you’re referencing,” I respond.

That launched her into a fit.

About this point, I picked up Little Man, took him to the rocker, and tried to console him.  That’s when he flailed and knocked his head on my lip really hard, and well, that is when this tired Mom lost her patience.

I put him down, went to my room, and shut the door, intending to get ready for work in peace.

Of course, they followed me.  Two crying, wailing kids following me and grating on my last nerve.

“YOU DEAL WITH THEM,” I told my husband angrily, who was still mocking sleep in bed.  He chose to ignore the whole situation, and it just continued to spiral from there.

I feel horrible, but I’m human.  There is only so much I can handle in the wee hours of the morning while I’m trying to get kids up and ready, and under the pressure of preparing for my own workday.

It has pretty much tainted my entire day.  Days like these, I want to just go back to bed and curl up under the covers, hiding from the world.  But, here I am at work, putting on a brave face, and hoping that things go smoothly when we all return home this evening.

Please tell me I’m not the only one with Bad Mom experiences such as this.