Monday, February 28, 2011

Spur of the Moment Joys - Reality Check! (Fantasy vs Real Life)

Today's post is part 2 of "Spur of the Moment Joys - A Great Addition To Everyday Life".  As you know, I had planned a last minute getaway with the family to Ottawa for this past weekend.  I will start off by saying that overall, it was a great break from our regular routine and the kids had a blast.  We had fun too, but let's look at the fantasy I had for the weekend vs what really transpired...

Fantasy:  kids are delighted to roam the museums, they are entranced by all of the interactive fun exhibits, they listen as we explain all of the cool things we are seeing.  Arrive at nice hotel where room is fantastic and most importantly, the heated indoor salt water pool and 2-storey water slide are beyond fun.  Skating on Rideau Canal brings laughter and adventure, kids have rosy cheeks and big smiles. Eating out with no fuss or mess while we enjoy some real quality family time.  Return home from great adventure buoyed by good spirits and renewed energy.

Reality:  Let's first start by saying my kids were very excited and kept asking about the beach in Ottawa and that they hate winter and couldn't wait to be out of the snow.  Uh oh.  Like I said, we usually plan our family vacations well in advance and they are usually to either Mexico or Florida.  Hmm... needed to explain that Ottawa was only 2 hours from home and that it was also cold.  They were very confused and couldn't seem to grasp this idea.  It took a few tries.

Arrived in Ottawa and  we go direct to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.  Everyone is happy to be there and to get out of the car.  We buy the tickets and off we go.  But one kid runs off in one direction, and one in the other.  Hubby and I split up each trying to keep a child in sight.  Thank goodness for bbm or we would never find each other.  Kids don't stay long enough at any one thing to actually learn something.  Myles makes a beautiful drawing in "colouring to music" and Charley accidentally cuts it up during "make your own kaleidoscope".  Tears, tears and more tears.  All in all, a good time at the museum. 

After the museum, we go for lunch at a Chinese restaurant as we are all starving - kids fight over who gets to sit next to mommy.  Mommy puts chair at end of table so she is in the middle.  Kids fight over who gets green pen who gets blue pen to draw on paper on table.  Upset that restaurant doesn't offer crayons.  Noodles arrive but need to pick all green things out.  Forgot to order without green things.  No tears.  Phew.  All in all, good lunch.

Arrive at Delta hotel with GREAT expectations.  Room is not ready.  Children are whining and tired and want to swim.  Standing at front desk for forty five minutes as they try to sort out room.  Finally get in room only to arrive and it is not 1 bedroom suite as reserved, but single room.  Husband goes downstairs to yell.  Another 20 minutes later we are in 2 bedroom suite that has definitely seen too many bachelor parties.  Husband is grossed out and puts sheets over everything in  the room and towels all over the floor.  Still with great expectations, I take kids down to pool - they are soooo excited to swim.  Get to pool... where is great big indoor, heated salt water pool with 2-storey water slide???  I nearly choke on my dismay as reality sets in.  Very small pool with about 30 people swimming and about 18 of them in whirlpool (oh right, it's spring break... crap).  Water slide is separate, not heated (rather, they needed to add water and so it wasn't heated yet).  Kids still want to get in and as a good sport, I say OK.  Husband arrives after us and nearly dies.  He is also good sport and gets in, all the while telling me we are going to catch e-coli or some other deadly disease. 

Dinner out is great, except kids are fighting over who gets to sit next to mommy.  So all 3 of us squish in on one side of the booth and each fights over who gets to put their head on mommy's lap.  They bump heads. More tears and screaming.  Finally separate them.  They are practically falling asleep at the table.  Eat fast and leave.  Kids fall asleep during 8 minute car ride back to hotel.

Musical beds during the night at hotel.  Need I say more?

Next morning, we head out early for breakfast.  Original plan was to skate on the Rideau Canal but thankfully was given the heads up by a friend that despite mild temperatures when she went, it was about 20 degrees colder when actually skating on the canal.  I saw the writing on the wall.  Instead, opted for the Canada Science & Technology Museum  - this was also fun for the kids but by day 2 of trying not to lose kids in crowd and splitting up once again... less fun for mom and dad.

On the road home by 2:30pm.  Kids fall asleep exhausted.  Mommy sits in passenger seat and wants to rest but keeps one eye open in case daddy accidentally takes rest.   

Lessons learned...

Probably could have just taken the kids swimming at the pool in Grandma Betty's assisted living building.  It's brand new, nobody uses it, it's really hot in case old people do want to use it, and it's about 3 minutes from home (defnitely no spring break crowd there). 

One museum per weekend is PLENTY! 

Weekend getaway adventure does not leave you buyoed by good spirits and renewed with energy.  It leaves you exhausted and thrilled to go back to work on Monday morning for a rest.

Conclusion:  Although it was a great adventure over all, my fantasy was definitely not the same as the reality!  I will continue to try and add spur of the moment joys to our everyday lives, but I will keep in mind that when kids are involved, expectations and adventures are a tad bit different than they were when I was the kid growing up.  Reality check, done!

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Co-Workers Feel Slighted - So This Is For Them

I wouldn't have started this blog if it weren't for Sari & Ana.  They were the ones who jokingly said "Blog About It" when I received my first shipment of TrueStar vitamins (and I was so excited and hopeful that it would mean the end to the weary, draggin' my ass phase I was in).  I thought, why not?  I love to write and I always have a lot to say, so this blog was born.  And by the way, I have been feeling more energetic since taking the vitamins.  I think they're working!  Anyway, back to Sari & Ana...  They feel they didn't receive their much deserved acknowledgement for their role in my new life as a blogger.  So this is for them.

I am very lucky that Sari & Ana are not only the people I spend all day with, 5 days a week, but they are also my friends.  I have worked in many places and having people you truly like, respect and can laugh with really make or break the job.  We spend so much time in the workplace (more than in our personal life) and you can have the best job in the world, but if you don't work have great co-workers, it can end up being the worst job in the world.

Since we don't really get much say in who we work with, it's really a crap shoot on who we get.  Unless of course, you're the boss and have some say in who you are hiring.  In my case, I inherited Sari when I started and was just a little apprehensive knowing she was the owner's daughter.  Lucky for me, she turned out to be one of the hardest-working, most level-headed, intelligent and mature young ladies that I have ever had the pleasure of working with (and really, I'm not just saying that because she's the owner's daughter). 

Ana, on the other hand, used to work for a friend of mine and when their company went bankrupt, timing was precipitous and I was able to hire her as our designer at my previous job.  When I quit and took this job, my one and only regret was having to leave Ana.  I told her that if there was any way I could take her with me, I would make it happen.  Not because I liked her so much as my friend (which I do), but because she's an AMAZING designer.  So within 2 months, I was able to make that happen and now here she is.  So this is my little Mayfair Tech nuclear family - we have other members on our team, but it's really the 3 of us sitting in our ShaToBu room all day, every day. 

I have worked with all kinds in my 25+ years in the workforce.  I got my first job in retail when I was 16.  I have worked with women have been catty and vindictive.  I have experienced both sexual harassment and verbal harassment.  I have had people be discriminatory based on my religion.  I have had some good bosses and some really bad bosses.  Some have taught me and mentored me, and others have left me to fend for myself.  I think that is why I can be so appreciative of my position here at Mayfair today.  I really like my job, I have great bosses and I have Sari & Ana.  It makes my professional life a pleasure.  That doesn't mean that things are always perfect or that there aren't any pressures - that's not real life.  But I'm in a happy place. 

Being surrounded by good people and in a job you like doesn't only make for a happy career, it also carries over to your personal life.  There were times I was absolutely miserable in my last position and I would come home in a bad mood and would have a hard time shaking it off.  Not a good thing when you have children (and not so great on a marriage either).

It may not always be easy to find the right job, but when it all comes together, it definitely makes for a much more peaceful existence.  And when times are stressful or the shit hits the fan, having those great co-workers to make us feel better and to laugh with makes it so much more bearable.

So thanks, Sari & Ana - you're the best.

Here's a little fun from me and the girls... enjoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Is It Possible To Train My Son To Be The Perfect Man?

We always hear Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus - you know, men and women are inherently different and that's just the way it is. 

So here's a novel idea... what if I were to train my son to be the Perfect Man?  Could that work???

I'm talking about teaching him things (to name a few) like:
  • acting with perfect gentleman-like manners (you know, to be "courtly")
  • to put the toilet seat down (and not pee on the seat)
  • not burping or farting in public
  • knowing he doesn't always have to be right
  • putting his dirty clothes in the hamper
  • putting his dirty dishes in the dishwasher (and maybe unloading it too)
  • knowing the general concept of cleaning and making a bed
  • how to react in the perfect way to a female mood swing
  • listening without trying to solve all of your problems (and no selective hearing!)
  • asking for directions
  • not putting an empty juice/milk container back in the fridge
  • leaving hair/toothpaste in the sink/tub (or sharing my towel - yuck!)
  • sharing the TV remote
  • not procrastinating
And one more big one for sure... the one that inspired this post.  Teaching him not to objectify women - to learn to appreciate them for the person they are inside, and not just the outside. 

We were out for brunch on Sunday and the topic of who my son thought was cute in his kindergarten class came up.  My husband jokingly said to him,  "Just wait, when you get a bit older, we'll have fun ranking chicks" and I was like "NO WAY"!  I know it was all in jest, but the reality is, men learn it somewhere.  Now, just a quick note in case any of you want to attack my husband, he truly loves women (me in  particular ;-0 ) but he does always notice beautiful women and can sometimes suffer from a little whiplash if they pass by too quickly.  He's the most loyal human I have ever met so I have no problem AT ALL with him looking.  But it does get annoying that he sometimes gets fixated on looks.

I'm not going to fully discount looks and the role they plays in relationships.  A romantic relationship requires physical attraction, otherwise it's just a friendship.  No sexual chemistry, no lasting marriage.  I think generally speaking, men are much more shallow when it comes to looks than women (i.e. the movie Shallow Hal).  Obviously, some women get much more fixated by dollar signs, but that's another whole post entirely!

So back to my original thought...can I teach my son to be what women want - can he become the Perfect Man?  The whole nurture vs nature debate.  Surely some of the more task-oriented items on the list can be conquered.  But will societal pressure be too much to conquer?  I'm so far not doing to well on the whole toilet seat issue, so who knows?!?  I do know one thing, if I did succeed, I'd have a few VERY thankful young women one day!

My beautiful boy...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Morning Madness - Getting The Hell Out Of The Door Every Day

I remember one of the biggest adjustments to parenthood as a first time mom was the simple art of leaving the house.  Before kids, you just got up, did your morning thing, and walked out the door.  When my son was a week old, we had to take him to his Bris for 7am.  I think I experienced real terror on how I was actually going to manage to get out of the house with an infant at that hour... make sure the diaper bag was packed with extra clothes, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, etc., do a last minute diaper change, calm the crying baby, quick turn at the boob, put snowsuit on (Oh yes, born January 21st in the dead of winter), take snowsuit off, do another diaper change, put snowsuit back on, stuff crying baby into baby carrier, remember to actually bring diaper bag.... blah, blah, blah.  If you've been there, you know what I mean. 

Nearing the end of my mat leave with Myles, I think I had actual panic attacks thinking about how I was going to get both him and myself up and out the door by 7am every day.  Then add baby #2 to the mix and the anxiety more than doubles.  I've been at it now for 3 years and mornings are still far from fun.  I definitely have my timing down to the minute in order to leave on time, but there isn't a day that I don't end up in a mad rush by the last few minutes.  I don't think I ever leave the house leisurely on a weekday now that I have kids, except on the rare occasion when I'm not doing a drop off.  Those days feel like an absolute luxury.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I wake up at un-Godly hours.  I set my alarm for 5am everyday, but I'm usually out of bed by 4:45am.  I get up, brush teeth & put in contacts while trying to rouse myself, take some vitamins, do my 20-30 minute workout, feed the dog, finish making lunches (I try to do most of it the night before), take a shower, get dressed, etc.  By the time I'm finished all of that, it's usually around 6:30am.  Up until this point, my routine is at a very nice, unfrazzled pace, unless of course one of the kids has woken early.  Then they are usually tagging along and needing something.

Usually it starts with the breakfast demands (or TV demands).  Amazing how they are so absolutely starving and need breakfast NOW, when at other mealtimes, I have to force them to eat.  It doesn't matter if I'm half dressed or not dressed at all... they can't wait another minute! 

And then the fun begins... My daughter wakes up every morning with a rat's nest on her head, so we start with the hair brushing ordeal - brutal.  Out comes the brush and the No More Tangles Spray (thank the lord for that invention).  Once the screaming has settled down, then the dressing game begins.  No matter what I choose, it's the wrong outfit.  And if I ask her to choose, she can literally take an hour.  So there I stand looking at my watch as she's hemming and hawing and I have to remind myself to breathe.  She also has this special trick of wanting to play catch me if you can once the clothes are finally chosen.  Fun.  Not.  My husband tries to have her choose her outfit the night before and does have some success with this strategy.  But she definitely invokes the female prerogative to change her mind! 

The morning madness is taken to an even higher level on those mornings where I actually have to wake my daughter from a dead sleep.  If she's not up by 6:45am, I usually carry her into our bedroom and turn on some cartoons, hoping she'll transition from sleep zombie to TV zombie and won't have any kind of a meltdown.  And did I mention, by 7am coats and boots are being wrestled on?  So all those fun activities take place in a nice 15 minute window.  Because of course, we need to be dressed and leaving by 7am in order to roll out of the driveway by 7:10am.  I still can't figure out how that takes 10 minutes.  But it does, so it has to be calculated in.  Oh, yes, and somewhere in that 15 minute window during the wretched winter months I have to get outside, start the car, and clean off the snow.

Thankfully this past September my son started kindergarten.  So he's now my husband's responsibility in the morning because he doesn't leave for school until long after I've left for work.  Many days he's still asleep when I do the morning madness dash out the door.  But I used to do the morning routine with both of them.  And next September, Charley will start pre-K at Myles' school and I can once again return to just getting me, myself & I out of the house.  I'm counting the days... In the meantime I will try to remember how blessedly wonderful it is to look at her little face and get that warm good-morning hug and kiss.  It does make it all worth it. 

Here are some helpful hints I found for getting out the door in the morning.  I won't say "hints to avoid morning madness entirely" since I haven't quite mastered that.  If you have, please fill me in!

From "Hub Pages"

From "eHow"

From "Pick The Brain"

From "Associated Content"

From "WorknWomen"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spur Of The Moment Joys - A Great Addition To Everyday Life

Do you remember when you were a kid and life was full of spur of the moment ideas?  Some of my greatest joys growing up were playing with friends in the neighbourhood where we made up games and went on "explorations", we took unexpected trips to the corner store for a treat, rode our bikes wild, and as I got a bit older, we took some unplanned but fun-filled road trips.  These spur of the moment joys were just about anything where I simply followed my heart, went with the flow and fulfilled a sudden desire. Oh, the carefree days of youth!  I'm feeling nostalgic just thinking about it.

These spur of the moment joys seem to fade as we get older.  Life gets busier, priorities are set, routines are in place... everything is planned.  Well, OK, I'll speak for myself as a major planner in life.  But funny enough, I'm also a spur of the moment kind of a gal and I really don't want to lose this trait - even though I seem to use it less and less. 

Yesterday I was feeling frustrated after a weekend of not really knowing what to do and not doing much.  Although we had a great time with all our family in town, I didn't feel like we really did anything.  Our outings seemed to revolve solely around food - we had everyone over for dinner, we went out for lunch, we walked around the indoor market (which also meant we ate our way around the indoor market), we went out for dinner... you see the theme?  I'm at least happy to say that my husband somehow managed to get the kids outside on Sunday for an hour (after some kicking and screaming) - kudos to him.  But these winter weekends have been starting to bore us and it's been getting me down - we were in a rut.   

So when I got into work yesterday I sat down at my computer and booked a night in a hotel for this coming Saturday night.  Just like that.  I chose a hotel in Ottawa (about a 2 hour drive from home) that has a big salt water pool and a 2-storey water slide.  We've been hearing about the great children's museums in Ottawa, as well as how much fun skating is on the Rideau Canal (the world's largest outdoor skating rink).  I called my husband and told him what I had done and he couldn't have been more thrilled.  Can't wait until Saturday!  

We've never really done anything like this - our trips are always planned well in advance.  I have lots of friends who take these mini trips with their kids and they always sound great, however, we've just never done it.  It's not like I don't have initiative in life, so I'm not really sure why I haven't.  Before I was married and had kids, I used to take those weekend getaways, go out for last minute happy hour get-togethers, an impulsive hike up a mountain to see the sun set, or a walk on the beach after work...  (I was lucky enough to spend some years in Arizona and Vancouver before meeting my husband and moving to Montreal).  If I had to guess why I now do less spur of the moment things, I would say that it's simply outside of my regular routine.  And with a family, it's so much easier to get entrenched in that routine.

I'm really excited about going and spending this fun time with the family, but even more so to see my kids have a blast.  It's so important to me to create wonderful memories for them of their childhood - I would hate for them to think back one day and feel like they never really did fun things with their parents.  I feel this quick trip is a great pick-me-up for all of us, it's a great break from our regular routine, it isn't costing us a lot of money (we got a great deal on the hotel room because we booked last minute) and it's something to look forward to all week.  Although my husband and I did sit in bed last night and plan everything we wanted to do once we got there LOL.  Can't take the plan completely out of the planner!

I think booking this last minute get-away is more than just going away this one weekend and having fun.  It's re-ignited in me the lost passion of my childhood in finding spur of the moment joys in life.  It's a reminder that I have to do this more often.  It doesn't always have to be something big like a road trip, rather, it can be adding smaller spur of the moment joys into my everyday life too.  Whether it's taking the kids for ice cream on a warm summer night, playing a board game instead of watching TV, calling an old friend I haven't spoken to in a while, baking chocolate chip cookies just for the heck of it (i.e. not for the school bake sale the next day)... whatever it may be, I just need to do it (I'm really on board with the Nike campaign lately).  Your spur of the moment joys may differ than mine (i.e. you may think baking cookies is a chore, not a joy!).  But please take this as your reminder too... just get up and do it too - whatever it is!

Here are a few memories of some of my spur of the moment joys:

1.  A last minute trip to Arizona to see friends and family for my 40th b-day (thanks to my hubby who sent me with my then 1 1/2 year old daughter!) - it was a fabulous way to spend a big birthday.

2. A family photo shoot in the park - something I always wanted to do and finally booked spur of the moment.  We had 4 generations, including the dog, present for the afternoon.  The pictures we took that day were beautiful and I will cherish them for years to come (and hopefully my kids will too one day!).

3.  My kid's first trip to an amusement park last summer (Canada's Wonderland).  I used to love going on rides so it was super fun doing so again (I felt like a really big kid, especially on the kid rides).  It was also great seeing the joy in my kids as they experienced their first rides.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Art of Choosing Children's Activities

I'm coming to the conclusion that parenting involves a lot of guilt, especially when you're a working mom. OK, maybe I came to the conclusion a while ago, but it doesn't seem to go away.  And when it comes to enrolling your kids in activities, it's no exception.

I know several moms who have more flexible schedules than me and who have their kids in lots of after school and weekend activities.  I've done some activities, more so with my son who is older, but I never feel like I'm doing enough.  He's not in hockey or skiing or anything at all this winter.  I did sign him up for 4 different enrichment classes in the after-school program which he loves:  this semester it's cooking, crystal growing, jr. sports and tennis.  This makes me feel a little better - he's doing something!  It's just next to impossible to get home from work and then get him to an activity, particularly when I have a 3 year old to pick up from daycare too.  My husband travels for work and doesn't usually get home until 6:30pm when he is in town.  So it's kind of all on me.

Last spring we did street hockey once during the week, t-ball in the summer on Saturdays, and then soccer in the fall during the week.  It was a mad rush to leave work and get him to the activity on time during the work week, and then having something on Saturday meant being stuck in the city every weekend and/or finding something for our other little one to do.  In the fall we did ballet for my daughter and every Saturday morning I had to plead with her to actually go.  She decided she hated it after 3 classes.  Does the weekend really come to be all about the children's activities?  And even more so, does it become about fighting with them to go to these activities every weekend?  Never mind the waste of money when they don't want to go or hate it.  We've asked them if they want to go skiing, but they always say no.  I'm thinking we should go anyway, but it always seems like a huge obstacle to get them kicking and screaming out the door - the last thing you feel like doing after a long week at work.

When I was little, my mom stayed at home and had me in everything from skating, ballet, jazz, gymnastics, baton, horse back riding, swimming, skiing amongst just a few LOL.  As I got older, I excelled at figure skating and horse back riding, but by age 7, I was fully entrenched in the world of competitive figure skating (being bussed around the province to compete).  My mom really dedicated herself to taking me to practices and competitions - it was almost a full time job.  What happens if my kids excel and want to purse something?  Yikes!  But yikes too if they don't!  Then I feel bad that I didn't expose them to enough.

This coming summer, my son will be going to day camp for the first time.  The one we chose is very much like an overnight camp  - they have all kinds of activities, including sports, art, music and nature.  I feel like this takes the pressure off having to actually enroll him in any outside activities during the summer time (phew).  My daughter's daycare thankfully has an outdoor pool and she goes both with her class and takes private lessons.  She is also taking yoga as part of the program (she was doing the ballet option, but as I mentioned, not so successful).  I feel like I'm off the hook for now.

So where does that leave me?  I will rely a lot on what the school enrichment programs and camps can offer.  I will still try to encourage them to try new activities, maybe just not as many as when I was a kid.  I will also wait and see if there is anything in particular that they like and then make a commitment to try and pursue what it is they show a little passion for.  I figure that way I can at least eliminate the fight to get them there.  Also, focusing on only one major activity per child at a time should make it more manageable.  I guess I will wait for the spring brochures to come out, and then see if there is anything they would like to do. 
Check out activities for Cote St-Luc.  Other places to find activities by area are The Kid Scoop and Montreal Families - a good place to start.

Charley's 1st (and probably last) ballet recital.  Well, she looked cute!

One activity Myles loves - rock climbing!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Healthy Eating Despite Hectic Schedules

Like most women, I have a long history with consistently eating healthy and maintaining a "happy" weight.  I say "happy" because for the most part I'm usually in my healthy weight range, however, I have definitely gone up and down by 15, sometimes 20 lbs.  I, of course, prefer it at the lower end but that definitely gets harder as I get older (I don't think I've seen the lower end in a while now).  I also gained 70 lbs with both pregnancies.  I didn't eat any differently but the weight just packed itself on.  Luckily, with hard work and dedication, I lost it all both times. 

And now, I have 2 little humans who depend on me to provide nutritious meals as well as healthy eating habits.  Pretty scary considering last night my 3 (almost 4) year old daughter turned to me and said, "Mommy, am I fat?" and I responded, "Far from it!, Why?" and she said "Because I don't want to be fat".  This is terrifying because she shouldn't really know the concept of being fat at this age, and even more so because she's only ever been in the 10th percentile for weight (she was born full term at 4 lbs).  The doctor told me this week that she probably can't move to a booster seat until she's 5 based on her growth curve! 

So how do you provide healthy choices when you have a crazy, hectic life?  Breakfasts are almost always rushed, you have packed lunches to deal with, never mind a hot dinner to get on the table every night.  Of course I will always fall back on my good old standard... planning, planning, planning! 

I do groceries once a week - usually at 9am on Sunday mornings... I like to get it out of the way early when it's not busy, and also, it won't waste the whole day with errands when I would rather spend my precious time with the kids.  I of course travel with a list to expedite matters.  We usually always cook something on Sundays (often a nutritious soup with lots of veggies and protein).  I personally bring my lunch every day, I either pack leftovers right after dinner for the next day (so as not to have to do it in the morning), or I dip into the soup throughout the week. 

As for the kids, I try to offer whole wheat options in the morning.  My daughter will sometimes go for an English Muffin with cream cheese and my son likes his with egg and cheese (me too - and it keeps you full longer).  It actually doesn't take that long to do.  I have my son choose as many of the hot lunch options as possible from his school lunch menu (they are quite well-balanced and only $4.25 each - pretty economical and worth the time savings for sure).  Luckily, my daughter has hot lunch included at day care every day.  I do pack a lunch box for each of them with snacks, which I also try and do each night (instead of rushing in the morning).  I try to provide healthy snacks in the lunch boxes, such as cheese, fruit cups or apple sauce, yogurt drinks, gold fish, fruit chews, rice crackers, bear paws, etc. but some healthier junk definitely makes it in.  The fruit and cheese often comes back (mostly from my son).  I do have some guilt in sending some processed snacks, but at least I know they will eat them and it's definitely easy to do (hey, I never said I was perfect).

Now on to dinners...When I went back to work after my first mat leave, the slow cooker was my best friend.  I filled it up the night before and turned it on in the morning.  We also did a lot of cooking on Sundays and those dishes lasted the first few days of the work week.  In addition, I washed and cut up lots of vegetables for easy use during the week.  After my second mat leave, we got some help in the house and I am now blessed to have dinner prepared for us.  But getting my kids to eat is a bit of a trial and dinner hour can possibly be my LEAST favorite time of the day.  After a long day at work, the last thing I want to do when I come home is fight with my kids and try and force them to eat.  Especially since I haven't seen them all day.  My son has definitely come around and is now usually pretty good (but that's VERY recent).  My daughter, on the other hand, is impossible.  As I mentioned, she is extremely petite and so I get frustrated when she barely touches her meal - my mothering instinct makes me want to stuff it in!  Lately, I have taken the tactic of saying, OK, no dinner, then no dessert and definitely nothing else to eat for the rest of the night.  I figure if she is hungry and doesn't eat, it will teach her to eat the next time... can't say it's really working.  She doesn't seem to care.  I really want to ensure they both have a healthy relationship with food and not create hang ups (i.e. by force feeding or using threats LOL) - especially for my daughter.  She'll learn enough hang ups from society and friends when she gets older, I'm sure.

I guess I end up somewhere in the middle with healthy eating.  I know some mothers who are at the extreme and their kids never have sugar, soft drinks, or junk of any sort (they're the ones who make me feel like a failure).  And then there are those who live on processed foods (they're the ones who make me feel like I'm doing OK).  I feel that if the majority of the time they get healthy choices, that junk in moderation is alright too.  I don't want them to go to extremes when they can finally access junk on their own (or at friends' houses).  It's kind of like drinking alcohol.  My parents never made it taboo so when I was a teenager, it wasn't a big deal.  I had friends who's parents were super strict and they went a little crazy when they could access it themselves.

So I will continue to OFFER as many fresh, healthy choices as possible (today I cut up 3 grapefruits and left them in a bowl on the kitchen table - within 40 minutes it was gone).  It takes a little more work to make those offers (i.e. cutting up the grapefruit rather than opening a bag of chips and dumping them in a bowl), and I'm hoping my kids will eventually add more and more of those offerings to their repertoire on their own.  I may not be Jessica Seinfeld with her Do It Delicious recipes, but I will continue to try my best.  And my best is all I can do.

Here's one that's always a favorite:  homemade spaghetti & meat sauce (my kids with a close friend and my husband).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

They Call Me The Sleep Sergeant

Today's blog post is actually coming by request.  Last night we had a big Shabbat dinner at my house - there were 14 of us, including 4 generations of family.  One of the reasons we always have Shabbat dinner at my house is because I'm the Sleep Sergeant.  Anyone who has been to our house for dinner invariably comments on bedtime - at 7:30pm (8pm on Shabbat), I tell my 6 and 3 year old it's time for bed and off they go happy and willing.  We give kisses and hugs and it's over in about 3 minutes.  This is the routine 99% of the time (there are always exceptions).  There is no crying, no hissy fits, no pleas to stay up later.  And of course, I always get the question, "How do I do it?".  Last night the topic of my new blog came up and my father-in-law's girlfriend suggested that I share my secret (especially since her daughter just had twins!).

So let me take a step back.  When my son was born, he was a VERY difficult baby.  Call it colic, call it whatever, it was horrible getting him to sleep and he had a scream that made strangers come up to me and tell me there was something wrong with him.  I would try everything, rock him to sleep in my arms and then try and slowly put him down.  Put him in the stroller in the house rocking it back and forth till he fell asleep.  Put him in the bucket (aka the "infant carrier") bouncing him in it till he fell asleep.  No matter what I tried, about 10 minutes after putting in all of this effort, he would wake up screaming.  Recovering from a c-section, I was beyond tired.

When he was 6 weeks old I went to Florida to see my parents - my mom said, no problem, she's dealt with all kinds of difficult babies and she would "sort it out" for me.  I'm not sure if it was around 3 days into the visit (or less) that she said she gave up.  Nothing worked.  So of course, I turned to what I know best when seeking answers or help.  Books.  I bought as many books as I could about how to get your baby to sleep, including The Happiest Baby On The Block, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer:  How to Calm, Connect and Communicate with your Baby (to name a few).  The two major lessons I gleamed from them all:  your baby needs a schedule and is pre-programmed to go to sleep at 6:30-7:00pm every night AND to look for sleep signs during the day and put that baby down as fast as you can when you see them (i.e. you don't even have a 5 minute window... it passes and then the baby is over-tired and will be even more difficult to put down).  Now, not everyone has as difficult a baby as I did, but I practised this religiously. 

Every night at 5:30 I gave him a bath, then a soothing baby massage, then I either breast fed or gave him a bottle (he started refusing the breast at 3 1/2 months, but that's another story), swaddled him as tight as a burrito in The Miracle Blanket (another life-saving discovery), turned on the white noise or soft classical music AND PUT HIM DOWN IN HIS CRIB at 7pm.  I didn't deviate by a minute - just ask my family who sometimes HATED me for being completely inflexible (because of course, they wanted to come by in the evening to see him - not to mention my husband who didn't get much time with him after arriving home from work).  I didn't take him out to restaurants or to anyone's house for dinner because when I did, it was a miserable experience.  We spent the whole time trying to get him to stop crying.  At first my husband (the un-planner and more laissez faire character) was totally against this and didn't believe in the "schedule".  He came around when all of a sudden we had nice adult dinners together without a screaming baby, and then later, when I went back to work, and he tried to deviate from the schedule.  He suffered the consequences!  He apologized profusely and said he now totally got it.

Sleeping "through the night" didn't happen immediately.  At first, after I started the "routine", he started going stretches from 7pm to about 11:30-mindnight, and then the rest of the night was a disaster.  When I started giving him formula around 4 months the stretch between midnight and 6am got longer (he'd wake up 1-2 times).  By 5 months, he was sleeping 11 to 12 hours a night and that was that.  As for letting him cry, I started letting him cry aournd 4 months.  Before that, I picked him up every time he cried.  It was HELL.  I remember sitting on the stairs in tears myself.  At first I would go back in every 5-10 minutes and just let him know I was there.  I think the longest I let him cry was around 30 minutes.  But I will say this, within 4-5 days, it stopped.  Everything is about CONSISTENCY.

So back to why Shabbat is always at my house - at the end of the day my kids are tired, they get whiny and demanding, and they want to go to bed.  When we're at my house, they can go upstairs and do their own thing and I can enjoy my company and not worry about having to rush through my dinner and leave 1/2 way through the meal so I can put my kids to bed.  When it's bedtime, I simply go upstairs and put them to bed and rejoin my guests for the rest of the evening.  Now that they are getting older (my daughter will be 4 next month), I'm less strict about it but I stilll make it a habit 98% of the time.  And Shabbat at my house has become the habit (which I LOVE).

We all have our "things" as parents and mine is sleep/bedtime.  The routine may have changed as they have gotten older, but I'm still strict with bedtime - it's non-negotiable.  My strategy may not be right for everyone, but if you do follow the schedule as closely as possible, I'm telling you it works.  Some of you may have easier babies so you may have more flexibility than I did.  My best advice, is do what works for you.  Nobody can tell you how to do it because they are not living your life.  I did it because it made my life much easier (because he was better rested, he was also easier during the days).  As a parent (especially a first time parent) you will get advice (both solicited and unsolicited) from everyone (all of a sudden everyone is an expert, even if they are not a parent!).  So listen if you want, but at the end of the day, follow your own intuition - after all, Mother knows best ;-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Power of Girlfriends

I think back over the years to all of the wonderful women in my life with whom I have shared fun and laughter, who have supported & encouraged me (and I them), who have been there through good times and bad, and I feel I have been bestowed a real blessing.  For many years I lived alone and away from family and those girlfriends became my family.  The importance of girl power in a woman's life plays such an integral role in her happiness and well-being.

There are days when you just need to vent and who better to listen than a close girlfriend?  I love my husband, but there are times I prefer sharing my feelings with another woman.  My husband always feels that if I voice a problem or concern to him, that he somehow needs to solve it for me.  In reality, I often just want to get something off my chest but don't really need a response (or maybe just a nod yes and a wink of understanding).  A girlfriend can also get into all of the nitty gritty details on a topic that would typically only annoy a man (is it a patience thing, or do we just care more about the details?).  Given many of these differences, there is a role a girlfriend plays that just cannot be replaced. 

As we get older, get married, have kids, etc., it can often become difficult to maintain all of our friendships.  What happens though, is that it weeds out those that have staying power and those that don't.  It also means that the friendships you do maintain will most likely grow stronger and have more endurance.  I have lived in several cities over the last 15 years, and I can proudly say that I have maintained friendships that mean a lot to me despite long distances and passing years.  Those women hold a special place in my heart and always will. 

Having entered a new phase in my life as a mother, I have also now made "mom" friends with the mothers of my children's friends.  These new friendships are invaluable - we support each with all of the trials and tribulations of raising children, navigating school (or day care) politics, deciding on enrichment activities, the right way to discipline... I can keep going but the list will be long and I think you get it.  Drawing strength and inspiration from one another, these friends really make you feel reassured in so many ways, as well as feeling like you're on the right track.  Unfortunately, parenthood does not come with a manual and so having these friendships allows you to bounce your hopes, fears and joys off one another - infinitely better than any manual.

So don't forget to nuture these important relationships, no matter how crazy busy life can get.  These women will be there to help calm you on a bad day, laugh with you on the good days, reassure you when you're down and just plain make your life better just by being there.  A big thanks to all those special women out there for making my life a better place.

P.S. I tested the Kettleworx workout this week - probably the best at-home workout series I've purchased to date!  They are each 20 minutes long, intense (I was sweating like a pig this morning to the Cardio one) but easy to follow (no tricky choreography to throw off those with 2 left feet).  I have to give it very high grades!  Also, still taking the TrueStar vitamins - I think I'm feeling more energized than I was, but it's been just over a week, so will keep you posted at the 3 week mark!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Older Mom - Have You Still Got "It"

Over the holidays, I read this terrific book that really resonated with me called My Formerly Hot Life by Stephanie Dolgoff.  Here's a picture of the cover (and I've included a link to her website & blog)

The premise for the book is that strange transition stage that women make from knowing they are totally hot and turning heads, to that less relevant, more mature woman (i.e. you've somehow lost your "hot" factor along the way).  At 42, I'm there.  Sure, there are days when I know I look good and feel totally great, but I don't feel like others look at me in quite the same way as they used to.  Add two kids to the mix and the "hot" factor definitely cools a few more notches.

For so many years I was part of that mix in society where you and your life felt totally relevant.  Now, I don't necessarily know what's cool and hip anymore.  I'm not cutting edge, nor am I trying to be.  You know what I mean... now when you shop, there are certain fashions that are just not appropriate?  Or maybe you don't know about all the latest music, gadgets or technology?  The question is, do you still care?  I certainly don't.  It's not that I don't feel beautiful (or that my husband doesn't find me beautiful), it's that I'm not the image that the cutting edge crowd is going to find beautiful anymore.  Not when there is a bevy of hot 20 and 30 year olds to ogle after.  And let's face it, 42 with 2 kids... maybe I can still wear a bikini, but I don't look the same as I did even 10 years ago.

I do feel there is so much less pressure to feel "hot" now and I like that.  I'm OK with all of the changes in my physical appearance and I probably feel more mentally at peace with myself than I did when I felt I had to be hot.  But it's weird to think that those days are over.  I can still look and feel good, but I will never again walk into that night club in a skimpy outfit and feel a whole bunch of eyes staring.  Well, maybe they would, but it would be for a different reason (and perhaps they would ask me to leave)!  

The book really made me think about my place in society.  I think it really put into words what I was feeling and experiencing but hadn't yet materialized into a real notion in my head.  When I read the book, I was like, that's TOTALLY me and really connected.  I'm still adjusting to this new sense of self, and I think that's what the strange part is.  I always viewed myself in a certain way and felt I had a certain place in society, and now that has changed and I'm not quite used to it.  Not sure when I will be, but I'll let you know!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Making Time For Play Time - Even During The Week

I often find the days go by in a blur and we're so caught up in the routine (and getting everything "done") that we don't make time for play - even as little as 15 minutes a day.  This could mean play time for yourself, with your kids, with your husband, or with your friends/family.  Just a tiny part of your day that is all about joy - nothing but pure fun.

Last night we were trying to have an adult conversation and the kids kept coming in, interrupting, being loud and asking for my attention, but it was a more serious conversation and I wanted to finish it.  I was torn between knowing my kids needed some of my time after their long day at school/day care, and needing to be a grown up for a few minutes.  I feel it's important that they understand, even at their young age, that they need to be respectful and can't rule the house by trying to interrupt or be so loud that we can't hear over their voices.  For perspective, we're talking about a 15 minute conversation here... nothing too crazy.  But because my attention was elsewhere, it was an obvious reminder that it was imperative that they got some play time when I was done - play time with 100% of my attention.

I took the kids upstairs and my son had 4 books lined up for me to read to them.  This past Monday his school started their MS Read-A-Thon fundraiser and we have to try and read at least one book a night.  They sat enraptured and they probably could have read 4 more books.  I couldn't be happier that they both love books so much.  I am an avid reader and I hope they can find the same pleasure in reading that I have since a very early age.  I love that the Read-A-Thon is going to force me to focus on them every night.  Sometimes I come home so pooped from my day that I take the lazy way out and just snuggle with them in front of the TV.  They love that, of course, but I feel like I'm cheating in some way.  Now I try as often as possible to either read, do a puzzle or play a game with them before the TV goes on.  We really don't have much time between getting home and 7:30 bedtime, but I do want to make sure to find that little bit of time each day where the kids and I can just play.  They couldn't be happier when we do this... and I know that very soon they won't want to play with me anymore.  I'm definitely going to try and make the most of it while it lasts!  I will do something to make the kids happy every single day  - which makes me happy too :-)    

P.S. We can all take a lesson from my 3 year old daughter - she is always happy, ready to play, and usually into some kind of mischief.  I think she is the happiest person I have ever met... I hope she never loses this.  Here she is dancing (as she always does when she hears some music).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Is It So Hard For Women To Ask For Help?

I think one of the keys to avoiding working mom burnout is to ask for help when we need it.  I must admit though, that I am the absolute worst at doing so.  After speaking to some other working moms about this, I realized I'm not alone.  Why is it that women find it so hard to ask for help???

I think the main reason is that we feel if we need help, we have failed in some way - yes, Super Mom cannot do it all on her own.  Imagine!  But why isn't that OK?  Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to do it all and even worse, do it perfectly?  Is this self-imposed or is it society's expectations?  I'm not sure I have all the answers, but I do know that if we are aware of the pressure we place on our own shoulders, just maybe we can do something about it.

So I was trying to think of some of the underlying reasons we have this challenge (other than feeling like a failure just for asking) - here's what I came up with... we feel people will judge us in some way or won't understand, we're too proud,  delegating goes against our nature, only we know how to do it the "right" way, we want someone to offer without having to ask (i.e. this usually applies to our spouse), it makes us feel needy or lazy, or perhaps we're afraid of potential rejection.  When I sit back and review this list, it appears all of the reasons are pretty much self-imposed.  Wow, now that's a surprise (can you hear the sarcasm?).

Wouldn't it be great to come up with a bunch of tasks we can put on the "help list" and get those around us to give a lending hand?  I usually only do this when I'm feeling really overwhelmed and at the breaking point.  My husband will actually sit down with the calendar and say OK, let's see what I can do, but it's usually only when I'm totally frazzled.  I guess at other times he feels I'm just handling it (because, big shocker, I don't say anything until I'm totally frazzled).  So I guess the lesson here is that nobody is going to make the offer when they think you are managing just fine  - and of course we usually put on a facade to make others feel we are managing just fine... you know so they don't think we're failures and all. 

So I say, let's start asking for help (it will take practise).  It's OK.  We don't have to do it all.  Really.  I swear.  It doesn't make us any less wonderful as a mother, wife & professional - as a matter of fact, maybe it will even make us a better mother, wife & professional.  And now I really have to put my money where my mouth is and practise what I preach!  I'll let you know how that goes... and let me know how it works for you.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Truth About Valentine's Day

The truth, in my opinion,  is that Valentine's Day is completely over-rated.  I think the only time it really matters is when you are at the beginning of a relationship and in the complete and utter infatuation/lust phase - it gives you a great excuse to go all goo goo ga ga over each other and confirm your feelings for one another.  But if you're single, then you likely feel like crap if you spend it alone (or marginally better if you're with your posse of other single girlfriends).  If you're married or in a long term relationship, then you feel like you have to do something special but probably feel resentful that everything is over-priced or just plain cheesy.  I do get some joy making it fun for the kids though (and yes, I did do separate little bags of chocolates/candies with cards for every kid in both my daughter's and son's classes - now that was fun.  Not).

My husband always says "every day is Valentine's Day" and hates that he feels pressured to do something that will blow my socks off (and by the way, he feels the same way about birthdays and Mother's Day).  So we just made an agreement to not do anything more than exchange cards on Valentine's Day (does NOT apply to birthdays or Mother's Day - these are NOT exempt).  This year, however, I made an exception - I bought him a gift since he's returned my last 2 birthday gifts and I was feeling guilty.  Although I did tell him that if he said he didn't like it, didn't need it or wanted to return it, I was DONE buying him gifts.  My husband travels a lot for business and he usually carries his toiletries in ziplock bags - so I got him a Frommers Toiletry Bag meant specifically for men.  And guess what?  He LIKED it - and better yet, he's KEEPING it.  Will miracles never cease?

Anyway, back to Valentine's Day.  Here's what I'm thinking... let's forget the whole Hallmark reason for the holiday and look more at what it should mean.  It should be a reminder to take a step back and appreciate the love you share with your partner.  So here's my thought instead of spending money and coming up with elaborate gifts and feeling let down or disappointed that he just didn't nail the gift once again.  Why not create 10 coupons that entitle your spouse to something special that he/she can cash in any time later in the year?  You know, like a massage, breakfast in bed, a weekend free of chores, etc.  This way the love and kindness that the holiday should evoke will carry on for longer than just one day.  The key is, remembering to actually use them!

P.S. If you're interested, I included a link on the the history of Valentine's Day.  Find out how it all got started!

Last but not least, Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Art of "Making Time"

You know that working mom who has a stellar career, still takes her kids to all their activities, has time to go to the salon and look all put together, cook nutritious & delicious meals for the family (probably organic too), bake for the bake sales, read, do puzzles, arts & crafts, etc. with their kids regularly, run all the errands for the house, throw fabulous parties, etc. etc. You know her???  No, me neither.  The reality is, despite all of us having the same number hours in a day, some of us are just able do so much more with our time.  So how do we do that?  How do we make the most of our days/nights?

I certainly don't have the magic answer (trust me, if  did, I'd probably be a millionaire by now), but I do know one thing is true - the more we do, the more we can do.  You know that old saying:  If you  need something done, give it to a busy person?  I remember when I was going on my first maternity leave and I thought, Wow, a whole year not working, what will I do with all that time?  Well, my days still flew by (so did the mat leave, actually).  Then near the end of that mat leave, I was having major anxiety on how I was going to continue doing what I was doing, work full time, get to/from day care on time, still have a life, etc.  Well, somehow you manage.  And then after the second child you think, 2 of them - yikes!  But again, you still somehow manage.

I think the only way to even try and tackle it all is to plan, plan, plan.  Combine that with a huge dose of initiative, and you may just have as close as you'll get to a magic recipe.  This can be particularly difficult for some who were never planners (as you know from earlier, I'm absolutely a planner, but my husband so not).  It's something that may take a little getting used to, but it's really the only way.  I plan what I need for the house for the week, I plan exercise time, meal time, pick ups/drop offs, my work day, time with friends, and of course, date night.  Now a lot of this just becomes part of the routine after a while, which makes it much easier.  The other thing (initiative) is you just have to get up and do what needs to be done.  You know the Nike saying, "Just do it" - couldn't apply more. 

There will always be some of us who still fit more in their day than others, but it's all about priorities.  Choose those things that are an absolute must and make sure those happen, choose some that you would like but are not completely essential to your life and make them happen some of the time, and eliminate those that you just don't have to do (I'm not saying cut out things you don't like but have to do anyway, like laundry, which is still a must whether or not you like doing it - I'm thinking something more along the lines of feeling committed to accept plans from friends you don't totally enjoy spending time with - it's OK to say no).  I guess the last point is really, it's OK to say no sometimes.

It really is a balancing act.  We may not always be able to do it all, and that's alright.  I think the pressure of feeling like we have to is so stressful - and that if we don't, we're somehow failing as a working mom.  Having other moms to support us and to discuss these issues with makes it so much less alienating.  I truly appreciate those mom friends who get it, don't judge me and offer copious amounts of encouragment when needed.  So a big thank you to all of you out there - I feel better knowing I'm not alone and I don't always have to be perfect.  We just do the best we can - and that's more than OK.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dealing with Gastro In The House!

There's nothing worse than being at the office and seeing the daycare's number flash on your phone.  Your stomach drops and you're filled with dread. You know that 99% of the time that it's not going to be good news.  And I love how they start the call with pleasantries "How are you?".  How do you think  I am... you're calling me at work which means something is wrong!  So of course without answering the question I respond "What's wrong?'  To the dreaded response... "Your daughter has been crying since she woke up from her nap and just threw up everywhere, all over herself.  How fast can you get here?".  Crap, Friday at 3:25pm and I work far from home/daycare - you know traffic will probably be bad and it will be a super long mental drive until you can get there and offer some mommy comfort.  Luckily, the traffic gods were with me yesterday and I made it in 20 minutes - record breaking! Of course when I got there she was crying and looked absolutely pitiful.

We did get the notice the day before about gastro going around the daycare... but you just cross your fingers and pray your child will escpae this round.  Gastro is the worst - mainly because you know that it will most like filter through the rest of the house.  Not to mention the grossness and messiness of it all.  But I do have this down pat after having some practice...

Here's the trick in avoiding running to the toilet and usually not making it, or worse, vomit in the bed.  I take the largest stainless steel bowl in the house, line it with paper towel, and put it right next to them.  The paper towel avoids any potential "splashing" and makes clean up much easier (just slide it all into the trash).  So far, since instituting this process, we have luckily had no accidents to clean up.  And, there is almost always enough times between throw ups to clean and re-line the bowl.

So here's keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of us escape unscathed this weekend.  But on the bright side, if I catch it, it will jump start a new diet LOL.  Always gotta look on the bright side ;-)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fitting Exercise Into My Crazy Busy Life

So quick update on the TrueStar vitamins - it appears that I have a little more energy in the last couple of days... however, I'm not quite sure if it's the placebo effect (since I was told it would take about 3 weeks to really start noticing the difference)... or maybe the excitement of my new blog giving me an adrenalin rush!  Either way, it feels good not to be dragging my butt for a change :-)

Speaking of dragging my butt, I have a long history of working out, not working out, working out, not working out... well, you get the picture.  Growing up, I was a competitive figure skater and trained about 4 hours a day, 6 days a week.  I quit just before turning 17.  That being said, I found it difficult to find a regular workout routine that worked long term - mainly because I felt that unless I was working out 1.5-2 hours at a shot, it wasn't worth doing.  So finding time to do this became a challenge while in University.  Eventually, I accepted that an hour workout would do the trick.  But even then, life often intervened and I would either be great and workout regularly for a period of time, but then things would come up and I would miss some time.  So then I would go long stretches without working out.  I was constantly "starting over".  This went on for YEARS!  I'd feel great when I stayed committed, and guilty, blubbery and out of shape when I slipped.

I think I have now finally found a long term solution.  It took many years to get here, but I found that limiting my workout to 20-30 minutes, 5 days a week was actually do-able.  It's enough to elicit changes in my body, keep me feeling healthy and strong, as well as mentally on target.  I do, however, wake up at 5am to do this - the only time I feel I can fit it in!  It's a lot easier to wake up and know that in less than 30 minutes the workout will be done (mentally it was too challenging to think of doing an hour and so it was too easy to hit the snooze button).  I work out at home and have a variety of workout DVDs - including many with weights, pilates and an exercise ball.  I like Mari Windsor, Denise Austin, Kelly Coffey-Meyer, Jillian Michalels and I just ordered a new one from - I like these because they are full body, pretty intense, but still easy to do workouts.  I am not the most coordinated so I stay away from any with tricky choreography or lots of dance moves.  And the best part of doing it at 5am - no excuses that something else has come up, and it's done for the day!

I have also incorporated 10 minutes of stretching every day - it really helps with circulation and actually re-energizes me.  Who knew?  Last trick... I try to get up once an hour and take a 2 minute walk around the office.

Would love to hear how the rest of you busy working moms maintain regular exercise.  It's hard, but so essential as we get older (especialy need that extra energy to keep up with the little ones!).  So any tips and tricks welcome!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Date Nights With My Husband - Part 2

So apparently my earlier post today needs some further clarification.  Firstly, "date night " = "sex". So now that we have that cleared up...

My husband wanted me to explain that one of the reasons date night works for me as the woman/wife is because he gets the best of me when he gives to me.  So on date night, he helps me relax and switch from "working mom" mode to "mistress mode" by giving me a wonderful neck, shoulder & head massage.  Yes, I know I am extremely lucky and I really, really appreciate it.  Thanks honey!  So his point, to address the anonymous comment on my earlier post, is that if the wife got something special from the husband, and the husband got great sex in return, then maybe he would only want to seek his "outside interests/hobbies" on non-date nights.  So find something you both need fulfilled, be kind to one another, and perhaps it will create some magic for the two of you.

Scheduling "Date Nights" with my Husband

I was wondering given that this was only my second post whether to get right into this topic... then I thought a few things:  (1) a healthy marriage is so fundamental to the happiness of the rest of my life (and the whole family), (2) most of us find time with our spouse slips on the priority list and often takes a back seat to more practical everyday life things, and (3) my husband wanted to write an entire book entitled "Monday, Wednesday & Saturday" (or it could be "Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday - depending upon that season's TV line-up).  So I thought, why the heck not?

My husband and I have "date night" 3 times a week.  We look at it like a contract - neither one of us will break the commitment unless we absolutely have to (i.e. one of us is traveling for work, one of us is sick, etc.).  Now I am VERY much a planner - total A type personality.  My husband on the other hand, totally NOT a planner and can't stand if I try to make plans well ahead of time in pretty much any other aspect of our life.  We first established our little schedule because with very small childern I was often not only too tired, but also still in "mommy mode" and had a hard time making the switch in my head to "mistress mode".  My husband, however, never seemed to have to swich modes - he was always there!  So I made the suggestion - I think at first he may have been resistant (can't fully recollect since it's been a few years now and my foggy working mommy brain can't hold so many details) but then guess what?  Not only did it work, but he now thinks the idea is BRILLIANT.  So brilliant in fact, that he wanted to write a book about it (ya, right, as if that was going to happen).

Let me tell you why it works... firstly, it avoids disappointment on his end - I won't ever say no on a date night.  Secondly, on non-date nights he can't make me feel bad about taking some time for myself (like reading my book or watching bad TV).  Thirdly (and most importantly), it maintains the closeness and intimacy so crucial to our relationship.

Some of you may question the spontaneity of the whole situation and whether it takes the "romance" out of the relationship, but does real life really run on romance?  When you live such a busy life and have so many competing priorities, is it even possible to live as you did when you were dating?  In my opinion, not likely. 

So tell me ladies, how does it work for you?  Leave it up to romance, or plan it all out???

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm a burnt out working mom...can you relate?

Today I received my first shipment of TrueStar vitamins... this is the catalyst for the creation of this, my first ever blog!

Let me back up for a moment.  I am 42 years old, married to my husband Anthony for 6.5 years, have a son Myles who just turned 6 and a daughter Charlotte who will be 4 next month.  I am also the Director of Marketing for a company called Mayfair Tech Inc.  (we do muscle toning, calorie burning shapewear, tights and apparel - if you're interested, check out ShaToBu - "shape", "tone" "burn"). 

I wake up at 5am every day Monday through Friday to workout.  I drop off my daughter at day care at 7:15am and get to the office at 7:40am.  I leave at 4 and rush home to pick up my daughter (thankfully my son's school is 1/2 block from our house), feed them dinner, give them baths, have some cuddle time, put them to bed at 7:30 and then collapse in front of the TV.  I have chronic back pain that I am finally trying to treat with a chiropractor after suffering for many years.  Are you tired yet just listening to me?  I'm pretty certain that there are many other women out there like me.  Time keeps flying by and I am always tired!

So at my last visit to the chiropractor (who scolded me for shovelling snow this past weekend and further messing up my back) I complained over how burnt out I am and not really seeing an end in sight.  He asked me if I take vitamins and when I said yes, he asked what kind.  I was taking Centrum (the version that's supposed to give you more energy) and Calcium (history of osteoporosis in my family).  He told me there is a book that is published every year that rates the vitamins on the market and that Centrum is pretty much crap.  I asked him which ones actually ranked at the top every year and he suggested TrueStar. 

The TrueStar website is really cool.  When I first went on it had me take a very thorough questionnaire to find out exactly my issues and concerns.  Of course, the list that popped up of suggested vitamins was a little overwhelming, but I decided on the True Basics Plus for women (the optimal wellness pack) and True Energy (supposed to help with stress and fatigue).  I'm told that it may take a few weeks to actually feel different, but I'm game!  Did I mention... these are NOT cheap.  But if it can significantly change the quality of my life, I'm game to try.  I bought enough for 3 months.  I figured that this would give me a really good trial period (and they had a special - buy 2 of the same, get the 3rd free).

So why the blog?  Well, I thought if I'm feeling this way, that there are probably many more working moms out there who are also trying to deal with the stresses of work and a demanding career, raising small children, maintaining a happy, healthy marriage, managing their homes, trying to exercise and eat healthy, and even trying to find a little "me" time. 

My goals is to find other women like me so we can help each other with tips and suggestions, sound off to one another and just feel like I'm not alone in this... so welcome to the Working Mom Burnout Blog!

P.S. I'll keep you posted on how the vitamins work!