Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Christmas Newsletter That Will Give You a Toothache

I look forward to receiving all the Christmas cards each year with all the updated pics of my friends' kids. But getting a Christmas Newsletter is a rare gem indeed! 

We have a friend who I have always thought was a little over the top with her attempts at creating the 'picture perfect family' persona.  From all the Facebook updates, to the family blog and now the newsletter, it's so damn sweet, it's giving me a toothache!

She's the type to use phrases such as 'play date' and say that all that she's ever wanted to be is a mom.  She is one of those who was a teacher before she had kids, and now she is a cherished stay-at-home mom, the 'greatest job you could ever have'. *blech*  She couldn't possibly continue to work as a teacher and keep up all the responsibilities at home, heavens no!   

Here are some of the most sugary sweet highlights from the newsletter (with the theme of "It's a Wonderful Life"):
  • My husband is definitely my George Bailey.  He continues to fulfill my dreams in making it possible for me to be at home as a full time mom and raise our family in the town we grew up and fell in love in.
  • My days are filled with trips to the park, library, Costco, disciplining, potty training, laundry, my beloved bible study, play dates with friends, catching up on Facebook, loving on my kiddos, etc.
  • ....I finally cleared my credential (just for safe keeping)...
  • ...Some of my favorite things about [our new home] are the floor plan, the view of the back yard from the kitchen sink, the play room (sent from heaven), the location (2 minutes away from my parents!)...
2 minutes from your parents is considered an asset?!! Yikes! Poor husband!  He has to work two jobs so she can feather her nest and then be 2 minutes from her parents in their home town.  This is unfathomable to me.  I prefer to keep my family 2 states away, thanks.

Even if I was a stay-at-home mom, I know I would be involved in my profession to some degree and volunteering and doing things independent from my family bubble.  Hell, I work, freelance and volunteer!  She is so opposite me in these character traits that so annoy me, it's amazing that we can even be in the same room together. 

She knows little about financial matters - her husband handles all that.  She fell apart when her brother, his wife and children moved out of state because she couldn't handle not seeing them regularly.  She gets very bent out of shape and emotional when things do not go the way they 'should' or when her husband acts out of the character she wants him to be (George Bailey).   She doesn't understand why anyone would want to drink a non-alcoholic beer when they're pregnant - "Does it really taste that good?" - YES it does.

I could go on and on, but will save it for another day.  I need to go treat my toothache.

Note to self: time to make some more working mom friends.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tis the Season

My heart is slowing warming to the Christmas season.  I've done some minor damage to my bank account/credit card and got several thoughtful gifts purchased.  I still have to shop for Mom and all the teachers/caregivers in our lives.  I fool myself into thinking that I'll bake bread or cookies for gifts.  Maybe this weekend...

Last night we saw a wonderful play of Christmas Story at A's preschool.  Definitely put us in the spirit a little more. We have the lights up and the tree up and the advent calendar up (even though we're not keeping up with it.) 

I've been to one great Christmas party so far, and have three more to go - including my own! Yes, we are hosting an 'Ugly Sweater Ice Skating Party'! It's going to be so fun and wacky.  No pressure, casual and very festive!  Since it's at the rink, there will be no clean up or cooking involved. Score!  The girls have never been ice skating so that will make it all the more fun!

Friday is J's work Christmas party, next Wednesday is my work Christmas party and following Saturday our ice skating party.  Someone else invited me to an all girls, no kids Christmas party on a Thursday night.  Practically impossible to attend without making me crazy.  Interesting how everyone is having 'girls only' parties these days.  Nothing wrong with it - just makes it tricky for working moms who need to scramble to get someone to watch the kids.  And I despise scrambling!

I'm really looking forward to flying to WA for Christmas! The girls are going to really enjoy seeing rain/snow, their cousins, aunts/uncles and of course crotchety ol' grandma!  I hear it's 20 degrees right now.  We'll have to seriously bundle up. I might need to bring a space heater since the fam keeps their houses at 60 degrees. They always laugh at how bundled I get and still shiver - INDOORS!  It's been a year since we've been there, so I know the girls are going to love their visit.  They are such a cute duo of sisterhood. It's fun seeing the world through their eyes.  Makes all the holiday hassle totally worth it!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bahumbug!

This Christmas season is starting off on a bad foot. I am so grouchy and anti-Christmas right now.  I don't want to go shopping and battle crowds of people. I don't want to spend money I don't have. I refuse to carry a balance on my credit card anymore. I don't want to buy things for people that they don't need or want. I don't want to fill up our house with more toys and crap. 

I am trying to keep in mind the 'reason for the season' and God's love for us.  I want to donate and volunteer and help people less fortunate.  I just feel that I have nothing to give and no time to give either.  It's frustrating.

On the radio this morning on the Christian channel, they were talking about 'Global Gifts' that you can give to people in 3rd World countries to help them and that really caught my attention.  I want to try it out.  You can donate money to buy people or villages a chicken, a fishing pond, a cow, a year of school for a child, etc.  Now that's a present!

Baking cookies or making bread sounds like an affordable gift too that I might try out too.  And just tote it with me on the plane to go home.  yikes. 

I am peeved with my commute, going to work and dealing with Boss Man too.  Aggravating.  I really try to keep it all in perspective, but it is not easy this week.  My patience is very thin with everyone and everything.  I pray for comfort and insight and energy to sustain me.  Oh, and enthusiasm too. 

Daughter A sang a beautiful Christmas song in the car this morning and it really melted my heart.  She has just a sweet angelic voice, especially when singing about Jesus.  I love hearing her sing.  I will carry her song in my heart to get me through the day.  (At least until lunch...)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"I don't know how you do it!"

This is what some stay-at-home moms have told me in the past: "I don't know how you do it."  Well, to be honest, I don't know either.  I just do.  There is no other option that I know of.  I would love to call in sick and just lounge around with my girls - especially today.

My eyes are tired and scratchy, I am coming down with a cold, I am burnt out of the morning race to get out the door with everyone fed, dressed, hair brushed, teeth brushed, etc. Granted, my husband does a lot of work to make it all happen, as I am hardly very functional in the morning. (Have to mention him since he might read this and cry foul.)  I am just completely grouchy and don't want to go to work today.

There is grocery shopping to do, laundry to do, Thanksgiving and Christmas planning to do, napping to do...  Some days I just wish I had a mommy to take care of me and tell me that it's going to be alright.  She could pet my head and give me big hugs and say, "I know you can do it - but you don't have to if you don't want to."

Boo hoo. There is my pity party for this morning.  Now I guess I'll 'put on my big girl panties' and get back to work.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Great Article on Mommy Guilt

I feel like I hit a gold mine when I read this article and found a ton of working mom resources through the site.  It's so nice to know that I'm not alone in my struggles and mommy guilt.  It's also yet another thing that will distract me from getting any work done!

Dealing With Working Moms Guilt, Whether You Love or Hate Your Job
If you wish you could be a better mom, you’re not alone. Working mom's guilt is practically an epidemic.

Only 10 percent of mothers working full-time give themselves the highest rating for their parenting and just 24 percent of mothers working part-time give themselves a 10 as a parent, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
So how do you deal with the feelings of guilt, whether you love or hate your job?...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day 8 of Healthy Breakfast Program

I've lost 5 pounds last week from just having a Herbalife shake for breakfast. My friend, the wellness coach, prescribed the concoction for energy, but I'll take the wee bit of weight loss. I'm trying to exercise at least 3 times a week, but I'm happy to hit the gym at least twice!  Work out at lunch during the week (weights and cardio) and pilates or Zumba on Friday and typical hustle and bustle on the weekend. I'm a lean, mean, fighting machine. (And hungry...)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Night Anxiety

Sundays always give me anxiety.  I don't like the start of each work week and the rat race.  Tomorrow will be a busy and long day.

This weekend was another blur of activity. Swim lessons, Halloween party, birthday party, church, and more.  Exhausting. Don't even have words... Just dreading tomorrow.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 4 of Herbalife Healthy Breakfast

It's Day 4 of my new program.  Cafe Latte Healthy Breakfast shake for breakfast every morning + aloe vera juice + herbal tea. And I've been adding protein powder.

Still waiting to feel a boost in energy.  I haven't been drinking my coffee and maybe that's what I'm missing. My friend who is a wellness coach and selling Herbalife (and is hoping for referrals) has recommended this program to me for energy, not weight loss.  It would be nice to tone up though - but that would require going to the gym more regularly, not just by drinking a shake for breakfast.

If anyone is looking for a wellness coach for a healthy program to follow with great products, contact Susan.

Swine Flu at Daycare

Yesterday I heard the news that a child went home yesterday with a 102.5 temperature and was diagnosed with Swine Flu.  Apparently now her whole family has it. I have not gotten the girls vaccinated for it and we will take it as it comes, but I am hoping that they remain healthy.

Hearing stories that children and mothers have died from complications from this, make me even more scared.  Now I'm noticing every single ache or fatigue in my body. Everyone at work seems to be sniffling or coughing. I don't want to touch anything!

Last weekend, we went to so many Halloween parties and events, that I'm sure we are all germ infested.  I hope we stay healthy though. Keeping fingers crossed and saying my prayers.

On Facebook, several of my friends from around the country have posted that their children have it and even whole families have it.  They are mainly saying it takes about 5 days to pass.  Better bring my laptop home with me every night in case I find myself needing to work at home...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 2 of New Healthy Breakfast Program

Thanks to a dear friend, I am on a 30 day trial of Herbalife 'Healthy Breakfast' program for increased energy.  Today is Day 2 and I'm still up burning the midnight oil, so that could be a good sign.  We'll see how I feel tomorrow at 10 a.m. though. 

Cafe Au Lait shake + aloe vera juice + herbal tea in the morning for breakfast. Will continue to document my feedback regularly to see if I experience a difference.  So far so good!

One good thing about it is that it's tasty and smooth - not chunky or 'fake sweet' tasting.  The caffeine in the tea didn't give me the jitters or make me crash or feel irritable after a few hours, like some energy drinks do.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Re-entering the Workforce in T-1

Argh! Now I've gone and done it! I convinced a company to hire me! What was I thinking?!
Only kidding of course! I am excited to put my business casual clothes back on and retire my slacker attire again. Wake up early (butt crack of dawn), mad dash to dress girls, get out the door and join all the other gainfully employed people on the freeway. I'm sure I'll wave an enthusiastic hello to all my fellow drivers with cheery dispositions.

It'll be great to use my brain more fully and work on some fun projects collaboratively. The one caveat of this job too is that it is PART TIME! The only part time job I've had since working my way through college so many years ago. But it is time. I was quite burned out for such a long time. I want to spend some quality time with the girls before they start school and are lost to me forever. lol. (A little dramatic.) I also want to push harder on getting my freelance gig going more and finding more clients. The economy has put that in the crapper.

I think it's just a great opportunity all around.  I will definitely use my writing skills on creative and fun projects and it will keep me sane.  I will get to contribute to our retirement savings, vacation funds, college savings and the girls' preschools.  All important things! 

I'm just excited that this unemployment journey is coming to a close and I'm starting a whole new path altogether! Yippee!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Weekly Workplace Wisdom From Saddleback - Women at Work

How ironic and timely that this email just arrived in my inbox!! I have been stewing over the right path to take in my career and praying a lot about it. It is very relevant to those women, like me, who struggle over work/life balance and who also want to make a contribution in the world - not just at home. I honestly feel that shouldn't be an EITHER - OR decision; we can have BOTH. It's just a matter of juggling - which we are naturally good at.

Without further ado...


Special Edition: Women@Work
by Helen Mitchell

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

Every little girl dreams of being a princess and living happily ever after. One day, those little girls grow up to be women who enter the workforce or choose to stay home and raise children of their own. But that dream of being a princess and living happily ever after never leaves her.

Most working women struggle with balancing work and family and being confident in their role in life and society. We tear ourselves apart between the internal battles over self worth and seeking the affirmation from our culture--which does not come. But we keep on dreaming.

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function…We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Romans 12:4, 6 (NIV)

God has given each woman a unique purpose in life, along with the talents and spiritual gifts to fulfill it. He calls some to be in the workforce for a season, some not at all, and a few to serve in the highest positions of leadership and influence. God created every woman special, each one different from the next.

In Judges 4:4, we meet Deborah, a wife, a woman of great influence and a mighty leader. She was a spiritual and political authority in the nation of Israel. “Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time” (NIV).

God used her courage, wisdom and leadership skills to fight out on the battle field. She
accompanied Barak into battle against Sisera, to bring victory and liberation to the people of Israel.

Phoebe, an influential woman in her community served in and was a contributing part of Paul’s ministry. “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me” Romans 16:1-2 (NIV).

But perhaps the most challenging yet influential role a woman may have is that of mother. On mornings when we are running late, the kids are slow in putting on their shoes and they are in danger of missing the bus and you the morning meeting, it may be hard to see our work as a mother as service unto the Lord and our children a gift. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

But Jesus cares very much about the role of the mother. Jesus knows how important the bond between mother and child is; he understands what a mother’s love and touch does to an impressionable mind and heart. In fact, Jesus’ last act of kindness was to take care of his mother and make sure that she was not alone. “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother… When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” John 19:25-27 (NIV).

We are also the bride of Christ and Jesus is our husband. Married or not, we should all desire to conduct ourselves in such a way to honor Jesus because of our love for him. If we live as if Jesus were our husband, then we cannot disappoint our earthly husband.

Ladies, know that you are loved by the King and you are his princess. One day you will live happily ever after. God has specially gifted you to carry out your life’s purpose at home, at work, in the church and in the community according to his perfect order and plans.

Until next week…

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. Women in the workplace need each other. Who do you work with that you can offer encouragement and support?

2. What misconceptions about working women do you need to let go of?

3. What is holding you back from recklessly abandoning yourself to God and knowing that you are highly esteemed by God and madly loved by Jesus?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tips For Interviewer Etiquette

After experiencing an exceptionally awful job interview on Tuesday, I thought I should share some tips on basic interviewing etiquette. With this current job market, the experts are full of advice for interviewees, but they've forgotten to give advice to those interviewing. Perhaps they think since there are so many people out of work, they have the right to act less than humane.

Unfortunately, the interview is also a time for the candidate to screen potential employers. If you are a QUALITY organization looking for QUALITY employees, perhaps you should pay heed to these guidelines:
  1. Give the candidate a warning to show up early to fill out an application, so they're not extending past their interview appointment.
  2. Offer a beverage upon arrival. Even though I would decline the offer, it is polite to offer something.
  3. Receptionists should refrain from lengthy personal phone conversations in the reception area. I didn't need to hear all those juicy details, even though it was mildly more entertaining than doodling while I waited.
  4. Don't make a candidate wait 40 minutes.
  5. When you do come out to lead them back, it is customary to at least fake a warm greeting, shake hands, make some light conversation.
  6. Don't treat a candidate like a war criminal that you need to interrogate. I'm a professional interviewing for a professional position at your organization. You should attempt to act professionally as well.
  7. Try working on your affect and facial expressions. It is customary to half-smile, nod, express understanding, feign interest, or a combination of these. It is unnerving to candidates when interviewers have a blank, expressionless and almost angry stare and demeanor. Yeah, why the hell would I want to work for YOU?
  8. Ask intelligent questions to encourage a discussion.
  9. When I ask you questions, please don't answer in a smart ass way. I didn't even have to ask them to describe their corporate culture - I could tell.
  10. After making me wait 40 minutes, the interview should last at least past 10 minutes.
  11. Don't short-change a candidate on parking validation.
I would be very surprised if I got a call back from this company, but if I did, I would be inclined to DECLINE.
P.S. Beware of job postings on Craigslist. No, it wasn't for a masseuse position! lol.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Turning MySpace into Mom's space - iMediaConnection.com

They're powerful, outspoken, and know how to band together to make brands sit up and take notice of their needs. Find out how and why you should seek the approval of moms for your next campaign.

Excerpt From Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth"...

- Taken from the chapter, "The Discovery of Inner Space"

If you are not spending all of your waking life in discontent, worry, anxiety, depression, despair, or consumed by other negative states; if you are able to enjoy simple things like listening to the sound of the rain or the wind; if you can see the beauty of clouds moving across the sky or be alone at times without feeling lonely or needing the mental stimulus of entertainment; if you find yourself treating a complete stranger with heartfelt kindness without wanting anything from him or her... it means that a space has opened up, no matter how briefly, in the otherwise incessant stream of thinking that is the human mind. When this happens, there is a sense of well-being, of alive peace, even though it may be subtle. The intensity will vary from a perhaps barely noticeable background sense of contentment to what the ancient sages of India called ananda - the bliss of Being. Because you have been conditioned to pay attention only to form, you are probably not aware of it except indirectly. For example, there is a common element in the ability to see beauty, to appreciate simple things, to enjoy your own company, or to relate to other people with loving kindness. This common element is a sense of contentment, peace, and aliveness that is the invisible background without which these experiences would not be possible.

Whenever there is beauty, kindness, the recognition of the goodness of simple things in your life, look for the background to that experience within yourself. But don't look for it as if you were looking for something. You cannot pin it down and say, "Now I have it," or grasp it mentally and define it in some way. It is like the cloudless sky. It has no form. It is space; it is stillness, the sweetness of Being and infinitely more than these words, which are only pointers. When you are able to sense it directly within yourself, it deepens. So when you appreciate something simple - a sound, a sight, a touch - when you see beauty, when you feel loving kindness toward another, sense the inner spaciousness that is the source and background to that experience.

-----------

I enjoyed reading this book, although it was challenging to get through at times. This particular section resonated with me. It is like the old saying, "Stop and smell the roses" but put in a more eloquent, elaborate way. Reading it over again, it compelled me to take a few deep cleansing breaths and I almost felt my stress and anxiety slip away.

Eckhart Tolle, is it possible to meditate on the dust bunnies that have taken up residence under the couch and find beauty and harmony in their existence without feeling annoyance and dread about having to bring out the Swiffer?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Unemployed Life

When I was working, I always resented it and hated the obligation, the driving, the juggling and always being tired. I felt like I never had enough time with the girls and I could never keep the house clean. I always felt like my social life was lacking and I was torn in all directions.

Now that I've been laid off for 3 months now, however, I am complaining that I hate to clean, I am tired of being at home, I've spent too much time with the girls, etc. I don't like the uncertainty of the future. I don't like not having a job or prospects. I don't like feeling unsettled and in a holding pattern. I really should be embracing this lull in my life. It's refreshing, right? I can read all kinds of books for pleasure, I can nap, meal plan, wear whatever the hell I want to, be flexible and spontaneous with my schedule, get lots of fresh air, catch up with friends frequently, surf the internet as much as I want, answer to (almost) no one...what more can I ask for?

I physically and mentally feel exhausted though on most days. Uninspired and discouraged. I check every website under the sun for new job postings and apply to everything that even remotely matches. I have only had 2 phone interviews and 1 actual interview - which all amounted to nothing. Every day slips by without any phone calls or emails with any interest. I doubt myself, skills, experience, social network, and ultimately my purpose in life.

Yes, I have 2 girls to take care of, and yes, that may be a full time job in itself. However, I have always worked. I do enjoy contributing to the social fabric of life (however puny that may be.) I like having structure and adult interaction in my day. I like bringing home a paycheck and saving for the future. I like challenging my mind and learning new things from other people and work.

I also have a freelance copywriting business, but times are tight and there's no business right now. And the last time I posted earnings for a project I worked on, the unemployment office got completely confused and held up my claim until one of their staff members could contact me to sort it all out - which ended up being over 2 weeks!

I know I shouldn't take it so personally; everyone is laid off these days. It's just a blip on the radar and it's not forever. I will find a job eventually. Most days, I don't really believe that though. It is weighing on me. Certainly, I pray about it and try to lean on God to help me sort it out and lead me, but that isn't always easy for me. Is He listening to me or does he want me to be a stay-at-home mom for heaven's sake?!

When you're laid off, you can't spend excess money for fear you will become bankrupt. I try to avoid shopping, eating out, entertainment, vacations, anything that normal working people find joy in. Annoying! I've always been frugal, but I now I am trying to be even more miserly. Eeks. What is the 'Law of Abundance'/'Law of Attraction'? - there is more than enough in the universe. Positive affirmations, creative visualization, give generously, trust God, positive vibrations, yada yada yada. I learn all these things but it never sinks in; I never practice any of this useful knowledge I love to soak up. You really want me to wake up early in the morning before everyone else and meditate and tap into my spirituality?! Seems way too hard. I may just be that desperate though to make some lifestyle changes so I stop feeling like a slug every day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oktoberfest in February

We hosted our Oktoberfest-themed housewarming party yesterday and it was a blast! (The reason for the theme was due to closing escrow in October and the big guy's German heritage.) We have put so much blood, sweat and tears (and money) into the renovations that it's been a relief to be 'done' for now and celebrate with friends. The big guy wore an adorable liederhosen costume and I wore a German fraulein costume too. Photos to follow...

It is anti-climatic and now it's Sunday without the mad rush to 'get things done'. Now what?! Go have fun? Unheard of! I believe we'll take a bike ride if I could just get off the couch... And where has my little German gone? Back to bed to rest his weary head. Too many Jameson shots at the end of the evening I suppose.

It was so nice to have people over and sharing laughter and good times. We are blessed to have such wonderful friends in our lives. I especially love seeing how all our offspring enrich our lives and watching them all play together! Incredible!