Friday, August 30, 2013

My Birthday

My birthday was a few weeks ago, but I never got around to posting about it.  Kemi confessed a few weeks before my birthday that he had no idea what to do, so I told him I'd tell him exactly what I wanted.  I guess after 10 years you just learn to come right out and spell it out.  And all I truly wanted to do was have a little bit of everything squeezed into one day: mostly family time, but also some date time, and definitely a little time to relax. And that is exactly what I got! Lucky me :)

We celebrated on Sunday because I had to work all day Monday. We woke up and made pancakes, which is our weekend tradition.  We had already gone to mass the night before, so we had all day to spend together.

After Evie woke up from her nap, we headed out to the Phoenix Children's Museum.  It is truly one of the coolest places for kids in Phoenix, in my opinion.  Is it weird how much I love it there? Probably because all the exhibits are open to all ages (read: moms can play too!).

Note to self: put more effort into your hair

We only lasted there about two hours before Evie needed to head home for a nap and dinner.  While she slept, Kemi pulled these beauties out of the fridge. Oh.My.Gosh. They were delicious, and had the craziest flavors!


After cupcakes, we made dinner plans. Haha! The restaurant I wanted to go to wasn't open on Sunday nights, so I was in a pinch to find somewhere else that has good gluten free and dairy free options for Kemi.  We finally decided on La Grande Orange, and headed out for a much needed date together.

It was a great birthday. Next year, the big 3-0!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Keepin' It Real Mondays

On Saturday morning, I had a consultation with a family scheduled for 10 am. I had to stop at the school first to get some forms, and I made a cup of coffee while I was there.  I got in the car a few minutes later with my coffee, all ready to go, only to spill it all over my lap and the entire inside of my car just as I was pulling out. I ran back into the school to get the phone number for the family, to let them know I would now be late since I was going to have to go home to change my clothes. After calling them, I went back out to leave, and my car wouldn't start. I was mortified because I thought by this time this family is going to think I just overslept or something and I'm lying. What are the chances of spilling a giant coffee all over yourself AND your car breaking down in the same morning? Boo.  Needless to say, it was a long morning.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Woman's Work: My Balance

Last week, I was lucky enough to have four amazing guest bloggers share their work/life balance.  I loved reading every last one, and found it really refreshing to be reminded that there really is no right or wrong way to do it. It is SO hard to balance it all, and every one of those mamas is doing an incredible job. Thanks to each of you for your honesty!

At the Phoenix Children's Museum

What is your work schedule?
I work as the Director for a non-profit private day school for children with autism.  I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, so much of what I do at the school involves conducting functional behavior assessments, writing behavior plans, training staff, monitoring the fidelity of the implementation, and collecting data on behavior change.  Besides working as the school's Behavior Analyst, I am the Program Director, so much of my responsibility is fielding parent questions and concerns, managing staff, basically what you'd think of a School Principal doing.

I work M-F, 8-4:30 or so.  My alarm goes off at 5:30-6:00 am, because Evie sometimes wakes as early as 6:30 or as late as 8. It's a bit hard to predict. She is going through a major "mama only" phase right now, so it is almost impossible for me to get myself ready once she's awake. I prefer to be ready by 6:30, and if she stays asleep longer, then it's just bonus time.
I am lucky that I have the flexibility to leave the school as early as 3:00 pm if I need to, but often I will stay until 4:30 or 5:00 to meet with staff or get other work done.  
Often, I will have a meeting here and there on Saturdays, but I am trying to get away from that.  Now that Kemi works a regular 9-5 too, weekends have become sacred family time.

I love that I get to eat lunch with her in her little nursery :)

What works really well about your current schedule/situation?
This year, for the first time, I have had the incredible blessing of having a babysitter for Evie on-site at SDSA.  I gave up my office, so now she has a little nursery at school, and is cared for by a woman that we have known for a very long time who is like family.

Having Evie at school has a few challenges, because if Evie sees me or hears me, she wants me. It's hard for me too-if I hear her crying, I really have to force myself not go in and intervene. But overall, it is of course a huge blessing and I am so grateful.  It is more than most working moms can even hope for.

Having Kemi off the road helps immensely too. He is a million times cleaner than I am, and honestly, a much better "househusband." It has done wonders for our family just to have a routine each night. Before, on the nights he would travel, my exhaustion would just compound night after night without help.  By the time he would get home, my nerves would be completely frayed, and I struggled with feeling resentful too, and it would sometimes get in the way of us just enjoying the little time we had together.  I think our family dynamic has really improved with Kemi coming off the road.

When Kemi was on the road, this is what I would be met with after I put Evie down to sleep

What do you find challenging/awful/crazy about your current schedule/situation?
It seems crazy sometimes that Kemi and I only see Evie 2.5 hours a day. Kemi commented the other night that you get married, are so excited to start your family, have a baby, only to leave the baby so you can go to work all day and only see her for a few hours each day. It doesn't seem right, but we don't really have any other solution, so I try not to dwell on it.  

Before Evie, I was a total workaholic. I was energized by working all hours of the day and night, because I was building my own business. I loved the problem-solving aspect of being an entrepreneur.  It was exciting to me that no matter what I was doing (writing content for our website, reading a book on language acquisition, shopping online for new curriculum) I was bettering my business.  On days Kemi was traveling, I loved to stay at work until 7, 8, or 9 pm so that on the nights he was home I could leave at 4 or 5 and not feel bad. Kids change all that. The school was my baby, before Evie.  Now, there's nothing more important than her needs, and our family, and as I write this, I am questioning myself once again.

I really believe that one of the secrets to happiness is finding what is fulfilling and wonderful about your current situation and focusing on that. I try very hard (I can tend towards negativity) to focus on what is wonderful about my life, right where it is. Kemi and I were both especially exhausted the other night, and talking about "when things slow down." After awhile, I said, you know, one day we're going to look back on these as "the good old days." One day, not long from now, Evie won't want anything to do with us, and we'll say, "remember her dancing in the living room?" "remember her sweet open-mouth kisses?" "Remember when all she wanted was our attention, 24-7?" The days that she wants me to snuggle her and kiss her and play "This Little Piggy" a trillion times are fleeting.  I need to soak it up now, because it's not going to come again.

I hope that Evie as she grows will see an example of a mother who put her vocation as a wife and mother first.  I hope she knows that she is everything in the world to me.  I hope she also grows to know that her mother used her gifts and talents to better the lives of others, and that it's important to have knowledge of our God-given gifts and to use them in the ways we feel called.  I also feel proud that she will grow up around individuals with developmental disabilities. I know she will be a better human for it.

How do you handle childcare?
Until recently, our childcare each week was pieced together the previous month.  Kemi just recently stopped traveling for work and accepted a new position. Until then, childcare was sort of hairy for us. On the days he wasn't traveling, he stayed home with Evie. If he was out of town, we scheduled either my mom, my sister, and sometimes friends to watch Evie. It was a crazy situation because we had to look at the calendar at the beginning of each month, and ask everyone if they could babysit the days he was out of town, and hope for the best!

Now that Kemi is working regular hours, I have been blessed to have a childcare provider on-site at the school to watch Evie each day.  I feel so thankful that I get to have her with me at school. We've only been doing this for two weeks, so we are very slowly getting into a routine. We eat lunch each day together, and if there's a question, or something catastrophic (nothing yet!) then I'm right there.
 She's been working with me since the very beginning!

I don't think she minds too much!

When do you get family time?
Saturdays and Sundays are really important to us. Because we both work outside the home, having a full day to spend together is huge.  We try to not schedule much at all on those days. Kemi and I are both homebodies, and would rather bum around the house all weekend in our jammies than do anything remotely exciting. So that's usually what we do. We have a Saturday morning pancake tradition, so we usually wake up, have pancakes, and once Evie goes down for her nap, I usually go grocery shopping for the week or run any other errands while Kemi does stuff around the house.  Once Evie's awake, we might go do something-the Public library, the mall play area, or go visit my sister or my mom, but often we'll just stay home and hang out.

How do you fit couple time into the mix?
We've actually been talking about improving this a lot lately.  We try to have a standing date night at least once a month, but I think every other week would be better, so we're working on that.  If we have to choose between family time or couple time, family time always takes priority. But I do really believe in the importance of couple time.  Neither Kemi or myself grew up with parents who went on dates much, but we've both always felt it's important. I want our kids to see that example and know that mama and papa make each other a priority. I think it makes kids feel stable.

It helps too that neither of us cares at all what we do. It could be a walk around the block, going to the gym, In N' Out burger, doesn't matter. It just has to be time out of the house to look each other in the eye and have a face to face conversation.

Do you have time for yourself? If so, what is your favorite way to spend it?
This is usually the area that suffers  and it can be a bit difficult, because I actually really like to be alone.    If I did have time alone, I would get a Havana Latte from La Grande Orange and walk around Anthropologie and Home Goods.  I also get maybe two pedicures a year, so to me, a pedicure or manicure is a super-luxury.  Well, at least I know what I'll do when those magical few hours arrive :) 

How do you and your husband share household/family responsibilities? Do you have set “chores” or do you each just do whatever needs to get done?
We have never had set "chores" or jobs around the house. I bought our house on my own when I was single, so I'm pretty comfortable with most home maintenance jobs. But, like I said, Kemi is naturally a much cleaner person than I am.  We both are fine with doing whatever needs to get done, but Kemi mainly handles yard maintenance and car maintenance on his own, and I typically do all the grocery shopping and cooking on my own. Everything else just gets done by whoever gets to it.

If you could change one thing about your current situation, what would it be?
I would be able to work fewer hours at my job, without having the company suffer. Like, I'd have a bigger, faster brain that would allow me to just know everything I need to know and convey it perfectly without having to look it up/read up on it/etc. So basically, not gonna happen.

I question myself frequently. Sometimes I think, what if I just walked away? What if we just said forget it and one of us stayed home with her and we got a tiny apartment and had no money, but tons of time together? Would that be better? And in some ways, yes, of course it would. We would have all the time together we wanted. But when Evie is six years old and wants to take ballet lessons, and I have to say no because we can't afford it, that will be hard too. It's a give and take.  Or when she's 40 and Kemi and I are 68 and we depend on her financially because we have no retirement savings...I don't want that. So Kemi and I work really hard.  There's truly no one-size-fits-all, and no perfect solution.

What advice would you give other working moms struggling with the balance?
I have absolutely no idea. I'm the one who needs advice!  Haha.  I guess delegate. Anything you don't HAVE to do, don't do.  While it was different when SDSA first opened, now I try to allow others to do the things that don't require me, because there's enough things that only I can do.  And have good boundaries. I don't feel badly at all about saying "if you want to meet with me, here's when I'm available." If it's so important, people will work around your schedule.  When I first opened the school, I found myself making crazy exceptions and just all around bending over backwards for everyone around me. Before I knew it, I was holding several parent meetings at night and on the weekends, and had no boundaries whatsoever. I was never home, and I was resentful.  Having better boundaries has helped with that.  Now, family time is family time and nothing else.

Do you have any thoughts on the editorials regarding whether or not women really can “have it all(Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer,  Anne-Marie Slaughter)

One of the biggest take-aways for me in regard to the Slaughter-Sandberg debacle is that in order for women to be successful at home and in the workplace, we have to have a strong support system in both places. Having a husband who manages at least 50% of the household responsibilities is crucial, and having an employer that wants to find solutions and can be creative and work with you is key too. Without those variables, I think women are really fighting a losing battle unless major changes are made in the corporate world.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Woman's Work: Jaime Mandarino

Meet Jaime, a friend of mine and a working mom.  She is also an independent Distributor with It Works! and a sponsor of Track 8!

1. What is your job, age, children’s ages, married/single, etc? Introduce yourself!
Hi! My name is Jaime Mandarino. I am 31 (when did that happen?!) I’m married to my best friend, Steve. We have a wonderful little boy, Luke, who will be 2 at the end of August. I am a labor and delivery nurse and an It Works! Independent Distributor selling awesome health, wellness, and beauty products.

2. What is your work schedule?
As an RN I usually work 2 days a week, but for 12 hour shifts! My hours are 7am-730pm, but I'm there earlier and usually stay a little later than those times.  As an It Works! Independent Distributor, I set my own schedule, which is nice.
3. What works really well about your current schedule/situation?
I work my two 12 hour shifts at the hospital, then I'm done until the next week. It's a lot, but I can sort of do it, then be done for a little bit.   With It Works! everything works out great because there is no set schedule. I can schedule it around my life.

4. What do you find challenging/awful/crazy about your current schedule/situation?
The days I work the 12 hour shifts, I don't get to see Luke- at all. Most people, probably, see their kids 7 days a week. I only see mine 5 days a week because he's still asleep when I leave and already asleep when I come home. I'm also exhausted when I come home, so I might not be the best company to my husband- but I try!

5. How do you handle childcare?
I am so blessed when it comes to childcare. My mom watches Luke when I'm at work. Steve drops him off and picks him up and gets dinner for him and plays until Luke's bedtime. But, l live in Mesa and my mom lives in Phoenix, so there's no dropping Luke off for a little bit while I go do this and that. He's my little companion. 

6. When do you get family time?
When I come home from work, Steve and I have some time together to hang out, eat dinner, watch some TV, and unwind. I get to be with Luke on days that I'm not working. On days when I don't work, we have dinner together as a family and play with Luke before his bedtime. Steve works Monday thru Friday, so family time happens mostly on Saturdays and Sundays. Sunday afternoons we head over to my parents house to spend time with them and have dinner. We go to church as a family either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.

How do you fit couple time into the mix?
When I get home from work, but like I said before, I'm not sure it's super quality time. We've had friends come over before and "watch" Luke while he's asleep so we can have date night. We've been talking about doing this more often. Maybe having a few couples in the mix and we can take turns watching each other’s kids. 

7. Do you have time for yourself? If so, what is your favorite way to spend it?
Every two weeks my husband hangs out with the guys and plays board games. So I take that opportunity for me time. I usually am doing something crafty. I love to scrapbook. I'm big into digital scrapbooking. I always have several projects going on at once. My current crafty projects are finishing Luke's first year baby calendar (I already made his baby scrapbook, yay me!), making a digital scrapbook for my mom for her birthday, and making Christmas stockings. I guess I do need to go out more, but it's hard for me to leave Luke.

8. How do you and your husband share household/family responsibilities? Do you have set “chores” or do you each just do whatever needs to get done?
We talked about this before we got married. I thought it would be a big discussion, but it ended up being short and simple because we pretty much agreed with each other right off the bat. So that was nice. In a really broad sense, I'm in charge of the inside and he's in charge of the outside and anything to do with bugs. Steve also cleans the dishes after I've cooked dinner. As far as Luke, I'm pretty much in charge of what he eats and I make sure we have things on hand that Steve can feed him when I'm at work. I'm home alone with him a lot, so we have our little routines down. I also am usually in charge of bathing Luke and making appointments for him, which I certainly don't mind. I am proud to say that Steve does his fair share of diapers :) Luke would tell you that whenever Daddy is around Daddy must either be playing with him or holding him! One thing that Steve took upon himself to do was mostly be in charge of Luke at church so I can try to concentrate. I thought that was really sweet. (I don't leave him high and dry though- I pack the diaper bag with things to hopefully entertain Luke and give Steve looks that say, "I'm here to help.")

9. If you could change one thing about your current situation, what would it be?
As much as I like being a labor and delivery nurse- I would work at the hospital less. Which is actually one of my goals of being an It Works! Independent Distributor.

10. What advice would you give other working moms struggling with the balance?
Pray! Sometimes you just have to say "God help me!" Also, realize that from time to time you're house may look like a toy store and laundry mat simultaneously exploded! Don't let other people get you down or compare yourself to others in a negative way. And personally for me, it has helped me to realize that my parents actually did know everything.

11. Do you have any thoughts on the editorials regarding whether or not women really can “have it all” (Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Anne-Marie Slaughter)
       I feel like this is such a touchy subject. People, especially women, have really strong feelings about this. I suppose it depends on your definition of “have it all.” In the cases of these editorials, the definition is career and family.  If you believe that God is calling you to have a career and a family life, then yes, it is possible. I, along with my friends and family members, are living proof.  I think it’s good to have the attitude “I can have it all” as long as it’s coming from a healthy place and not a place of judgment or vanity. However, I agree that it depends on the kind of job you have. If you work 40 plus plus hours a week like Anne- Marie Slaughter did when she worked in D.C., then, honestly, you really might not have enough time for a family. Personally, I’m blessed to be able to work part time as an RN. This was a decision Steve and I made because we thought it was important. Sometimes, though, I want to totally quit my nursing job and devote all my time and energy to my family. But then I think about how hard I’ve worked to become an RN and how I’ve touched people’s lives and they have touched mine, and it keeps me going. As an It Works! Independent Distributor, I can totally plan my job around my life instead of the other way around and that’s awesome. It helps me “have it all”, if you will.
       I really agree that there are barriers that need to be overcome. Moms are judged left and right. The part of Slaughter’s editorial about a boss comparing how dedicated a marathon runner is, but probably wouldn’t think that way of a working mom, seemed completely plausible. Barriers that I would like to see overcome are women feeling forced to go back to work so soon after giving birth and giving working moms time and space to breast pump. (I’ve gone a twelve hour shift with out pumping. It brought me to tears.) One more barrier we moms need to pull together on is being nice to other moms and ourselves!
I guess if we’re wondering if we can have it all, we should think of this, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Luke 12:34.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Woman's Work: Morgan Spenla of Pepper Design Blog

1. What is your job, age, children’s ages, married/single, etc? Introduce yourself!
 My name is Morgan and I am a full time working mom for an engineering firm, a blogger (to help out that creative side - Pepper Design Blog), entrepreneur and mom.

I started blogging when I was working in a more technical, non-creative environment as an SAP training consultant and when my husband and I bought our 1930’s fixer upper in San Diego. Slowly the blog has morphed from a home and entertaining creative outlet to a home, entertaining, wardrobe, craft and mom blog! Basically a bit of everything that goes on in our busy lives.

I currently work as the marketing director for a motion control and engineering firm in the Bay Area of California, though I still live in San Diego. As far as being an entrepreneur goes, I consult with a variety of small businesses to assist with web design, SEO, SEM and marketing strategies to move those businesses forward. I always have something going on on the side…

I’m also mom to two wonderful, beautiful little girls ages 2 ½ and five weeks, and wife to hubby Kevin with whom I just celebrated my sixth anniversary.

2. What is your work schedule?

I work a traditional five day work week, though I do stagger my hours to meet my girls’ needs. For example, I take an extra long lunch during the day after my oldest is finished spending time with her nanny. This allows us to reconnect and enjoy a bit of time together before she naps and nanny #2 arrives for a couple of hours.

I’m also lucky enough to spend 98% of my work time in my home office – traveling up to Monterey Bay (where the corporate office is) for just a week or so every few months. When I do travel the girls come with, I have family in the area so it’s a win-win. My side businesses get attention on the weekend or in the after hours (my husband works many nights so I often have free time post dinner).

My two-year-old will start preschool on more of a full time basis beginning this fall, and my newborn will require more time one-on-one as she gets older, so everything is constantly changing around here!

3. What works really well about your current schedule/situation?

I am lucky enough to be a full-time working mom while also getting to experience the ins and outs of my children’s day. I enjoy being a part of the little moments even if they are sliced up into a schedule that meets our needs. I love that from my home office I can hear my oldest play and laugh and sing, even if it’s a local college-aged girl playing with her rather than me. I also love that I’m available (just a door away) if I’m really needed to help kiss a boo boo or answer a question.

4. What do you find challenging/awful/crazy about your current schedule/situation?

To avoid complete distraction I do have to sequester myself in my office space for the chunks of time that I dedicate to work work. That can be challenging because there are always a million and one distractions at home. Once I’m able to focus though it’s amazing how much I can finish up without the typical office background noise that I used to be surrounded by! (aka water cooler chit chat and in-person meetings all day…)

5. How do you handle childcare?

This is changing for us soon, but previously we have worked with an outstanding group of young college girls from a university near by. I believe at one point we had four girls from the same household rotating throughout the week! There would be two shifts each day (a morning and a late afternoon, post-nap) and the girls would rotate to fit it around their student schedule. Flexible work schedule for them, lots of interaction and variation for my daughter for me. I was a lucky, lucky gal.

6. When do you get family time?

My husband also has a flexible work schedule so we’ll fit in some odd family time hours – a long lunch on Tuesday, a walk to the park on a Thursday evening.  Basically whenever we can get it! Though I would say this is one of the biggest struggles of two working parents, especially if one spouse works weekends (which my husband often does) and if both are constantly connected to work via a mobile device and are addicted to answering work emails at all times.

7. How do you fit couple time into the mix?

What’s couple time? Just kidding. We often swap couple time for family time when we do have free time… but we do try and have a standing date at our local theatre every month. We live near a fantastic museum area called Balboa Park, and within the large park are three live theatres and an amazing set of rotating plays, operas and outdoor performances (one theatre is outside).  We both love plays so we purchase a set of performances at the beginning of each season and then there’s no trying to fit in last-minute dates.

8. Do you have time for yourself? If so, what is your favorite way to spend it?

Me time basically comes in two forms around here: yoga and pedicures. Even if it’s only an hour respite from the house once every other week I do have to get outside on my own or I’ll go crazy, and that’s my favorite way to spend it! I also have a women’s group with my closest friends as well as a Women in Business group that keeps me connected to women like me.

My family recently moved to the San Diego area, so now that we have grandparents in town I’m looking forward to a little bit more solo time! Maybe a trip to Trader Joes??

9. How do you and your husband share household/family responsibilities? Do you have set “chores” or do you each just do whatever needs to get done?

Up until recently we tried to share most household/family responsibilities 50-50. But let’s just say that some of us are cleaner than others and one of us ends up doing most of the work ;). This is a work in progress.

10. If you could change one thing about your current situation, what would it be?

I would like (in the very far future) for my husband and I to be in business together so that we can balance family-work-couple time in a more flexible environment. ON the short term, it would be wonderful if we could each work part time schedules. We both actually love our careers and want to see them prosper, and I think that we could balance our family and our jobs well if we each worked 4 days or so a week and rotated long weekends in with solo days with the kids for more one-on-one time.

11. What advice would you give other working moms struggling with the balance?

Flexible work schedules are all the trend in the corporate world these days, work with your employer to develop a schedule that fits your family and your needs. I’ve worked ten hour days four days a week, have taken off one morning a week for a kid’s morning (the zoo, etc) once a week and have rearranged those work hours elsewhere, and have even managed a successful 11pm to 2am at-home catch up chunk of time for work on a regular basis (so that I could finish up at 3pm ish) during different parts of my short career.

It all starts with sitting down with your boss first to see what can be arranged - and be sure to come with good, productive ideas that share what outstanding results your new schedule will bring to the company! Stay positive and keep the good of the business at the forefront of your discussion and I promise you’ll have attentive ears.

Bottom line: make conscientious decisions and cut the guilt factor out – you’re doing the best job you can for your kids, your family and your career. And chances are it’s all going to change in the next few years anways. J

12. Do you have any thoughts on the editorials regarding whether or not women really can “have it all(Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer,  Anne-Marie Slaughter)

That was one of the most fantastic articles I’ve come across in the last couple of years. It’s realistic, to the point and instructs corporations on how to reevaluate their attitudes towards women in the workforce.

As women we travel through many different phases in our lives – student, intern, working woman, corporate woman, full time mom, part time mom, entrepreneur, business owner, educator, volunteer, high-level corporate woman, etc. If you’re stuck in one phase now and you don’t love it take heart that you’re working towards a different phase, and that after that a new phase will arrive.

I am enjoying being a full time working (from home) mom right now, when my kids are a little older maybe I’ll be a part time entrepreneur, and when they go back to school perhaps I’ll enter the corporate world again climbing towards a C-level position. I like the idea of having a few different careers including starting my own business(es). That’s where I see myself in five, ten, twenty years and that’s why I agree with Slaughter that women can have it all, but just at different times in their lives. Thinking about that makes me smile.