Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving Week Already?????

How did that happen? Ever since the kids came, the days just seem to fly by. It seems like we were just putting the tree out from last Christmas and here it is already Thanksgiving. I am of course thinking of what I am thankful for and my thoughts wonder to my boys school. As I mentioned before, Tom was hit by a boy in his class. This poor little guy was then suspended in 1st Grade. What does this have to do with gratitude? The school, the school family and how they handled this still amazes me. Tom never skipped a beat. He could have been pretty upset and quite honestly concerned about returning to the school. Instead, because of the grace and love with which the school handled this, he feels safe and loved. They are working on a plan to help their classmate return to school and are hoping that he will become a part of the solution. They are teaching the children how to help him with that. Amazing!! I could not ask for more. What a teachable moment for everyone.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I see sunshine on a cloudy day . . .

Okay, so this has not been a stellar day. My plans (what a joke) were really done at 4:15 this morning.

It all started with poor David, my 3 year old, who kept waking up to go potty. He would dribble a little pee and back to sleep for 5 minutes, just long enough for me to get into my zone and then he was back again. Finally he went number 2 and he was back asleep (that was 5:30). So I was exhausted when the alarm went off, but we persisted.

I dropped the boys off at school (I let the teacher know David had a rough nights sleep so he might be a bit cranky) and I was off to my special morning of coffee with fellow moms from school. I had been looking forward to this, and I felt honored to be invited. I barely got in the door of the hostess' home when the phone rang, it was the school. David was not well, he needed mom. So it was home with David. We really had a nice time. We snuggled and watched TV. He never napped but he definitely rested.

Then it was time to pick up Tom. It took David less that one song on the radio to be asleep. He was exhausted and really needed the nap so I sat in the parking lot of the school for an hour while he caught up on his sleep. It was here, in the parking lot, that I introduced myself to a parent of a new boy in school. I let them know that if they had any questions, to call me I would be happy to meet them. I suggested we could have our boys could play together. It was then that I found out the reason they were there. They were called in to discuss the fact that their son punched my son in the nose. Hmm. We talked briefly, and I let them know that our family would pray for their family as they worked through these struggles.

Of course I woke David up so we could go in and find out how my little boy was doing. The good news is that Tom handled himself beautifully. He was shocked and did not punch him back. Tom really does have a gentle spirit. The teacher also is amazing. She really took care of Tom and so did the class. There were kids telling Tom jokes to cheer him up and two boys made him cards. There really is a little family developing there.

My heart is full. I see the blessings in all of this. I spent a great day with David (lots of snuggling happening in the Allen household). I heard about the environment in Tom's class that is what I have always wanted for him. I kept my head on straight through out all of this. What didn't happen is almost as important. I did not get angry at my guys for my plans being ruined. I didn't spend a day in misery and depression over "my lot in life." I didn't feel the need to complain, I really enjoyed the change of pace. It was awesome. I am grateful and praise God when I know I am growing like this. For me I know it can only be a "God Thing" because I am not able to do this by myself.

It's great when I can see the sun through the storms.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Stop and smell the coffee . . .

Or at least drink it. Today was my day to rejuvenate. After getting the boys settled in to their respective schools, I headed of to my bi-weekly mastermind group. A think-tank we created of a few crazy people like myself who want to be self-employed. At our meeting we share issues, concerns and challenges, and then we help each other solve them. So over coffee we are building each other up and solving our problems. What a blast!!

Then I was off to my lunch meeting with a fellow mom of a boy in my son's 1st grade class. I have made a conscious decision to surround myself with successful people who are thinking forward, bright and filled with the energy I see in life. This mom is such a mom. It was also a great boost in the arm. It's amazing how much we had to talk about. The time just flew by.

Next I was off to my home office to check on some emails, do a little paper work and get the house ready for the day. Low and behold, when I checked my email I received this great email. I hope you find it a light in a somewhat dim world. Thank you Janis!

In April, Oprah interviewed Maya Angelou on her 70+ birthday. Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older. And, there on television, she said it was "exciting." Maya Angelou also said this: "I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights." "I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. "I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as "making a life." "I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. "I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back." "I've learned that when ever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision." "I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one." "I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back." "I've learned that I still have a lot to learn." "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Evening of R & R - Where do I sign up???

We just had a pretty productive Parent's Association meeting and at the meeting we decided to plan an event that would serve both as a fund raiser and outreach to the moms of our kids. I got so excited I offered to help, and thus Becca and I became the coordinators of this event. So what was I thinking? It was purely selfish. I really want this event to happen so if you really want something to happen, you might as well do it yourself.

The idea is to have an evening of relaxation. We will have substantial hor dourves, and some spa like activities there as well as some vendors that will nourish the soul. It is a soft fund raiser geared toward creating a community. We hope to bring out the moms that normally don't participate, to enjoy a night out without the kids. Wish us luck. And, if you are reading this and have done something like this, feel free to offer suggestions. If you were to come out to an evening of relaxation, what would you like to be there.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Monday, My Day of Reflection

It seems to have worked out that Monday is my day off. Although I am never really off, I choose not to schedule appointments, and I try to be available to handle things that have fallen to the way side. I also use this day for a long shower and reflection. Hmm, I love long showers.

When I think back over the weekend I feel content. It was busy, yet rewarding. There were several highlights:

  • An impromptu play date for my boys with some kids they love at the local tumble spot. That allowed their mom and I to sit, relax and catch up. We are both busy, and as providence would have it, her youngest slept for two glorious hours while we solve the world's problems and our boys conquered new territories. All in all, it was a great afternoon. A side benefit was we were out of my husband's way. He really needed to work on his sister's car, and we tend to distract him.

  • Sunday was church. I woke up with a headache that was not letting up and looking for an excuse to stay home. I was scheduled to work with the two-year olds. I was all set to call in when my 3-year old said "Mom, look God healed my boo boo." So with Advil in tow, I was off to church. It turned out to be great morning.

  • That afternoon our school was having an open house, and of course, I agreed to help out. It was a gorgeous day outside. I did not think it would be busy so I would be home quickly. Well, let me tell you, they were lined up out side the doors. It was great to be there. I was able to share what the school has done for me and my boys. I cannot imagine them going anywhere else. The school appreciated my help and it was good to remember what it felt like when we were first trying to make a decision on school

  • The evening was relaxing. It consisted of reruns of Good Eats, ice cream and a little paper work for the Parent's Association.

It was a great weekend, and I feel blessed to be able to share. For me I see the balance really taking hold in my life. The calculated decision to be careful about what obligations I choose and then do them when I say I will. The ability to be present with my family. The ability to be present when I am not with my family. I really see it all coming together. I feel like I am growing up. Or as Hannibal used to say in the A-Team "I love it when a plan comes together."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Having My Cake and Eating it Too

Yes, being a mom is rewarding. I get the kisses and I love yous. Tonight my 3-year old said to me "Mom, you're the bestest cook ever." And that was over a cup of tomato soup. And my other son who is 6 tells me I am his best friend.

And if it doesn't get better than that, I get to be a business owner as well. I help take care of my clients, consult and teach and schmooze with abandon.

Now, I am not saying life is perfect. I have my share of glitches. I am a work in progress. The good news is that I am stopping to smell the roses while I pick up the garbage. We all have stuff to deal with. In fact, I heard a great quote at a meeting the other day that truly spoke to me. A client of ours heard it at a conference from a man in a wheel chair who was dealing with the challenges he is facing. He said: "Pain and suffering are inevitable, misery is an option." Wow.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The tooth fairy is coming to our house for the first time!!!

Yes, Thomas lost his first tooth. I just knew it was going to be today. I remember worrying this morning "what if Tom swallows it by accident?" Quite frankly I could not see what was holding it in place. When I got home from my appointments, I was excited to get a message from Tom's teacher about how it happened. She was so excited and filled with joy as she described how and when it happened I could almost picture it happening. And you should have seen Tom telling anyone who slowed down near him. So tonight we placed the tooth under his pillow. As always, Thomas says, "Mom, I know dad is the Tooth Fairy." I just shrugged my shoulders and looked confused. He's too smart for his age. We enjoy pretending with him. And he knows it's pretend.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween - To Celebrate or Not, that was the Question

We decided, after doing some extensive research, to stop celebrating Halloween. We will not be trick or treating or giving out treats this year. Of course, this was a very unpopular decision at our house. However, my kids are great and after we explained our position they agreed, begrudgingly. Now we are still having a great weekend. I don't want my kids to think they are deprived. No we just want to honor our Lord and Savior.

So they were allowed to wear their cool animal costumes to school for their costume parade. We went to church on Saturday for a great day of fun and fellowship that was created as an alternative to Halloween. There was a circus and all kinds of other cool activities. And yes, lots of candy. Then we went to my friends house for a fall party where there was also good food, candy and friends. What more could you ask for? I say nothing.

On the night of trick or treat, we will be enjoying a great night with our boys that does not include trick or treating. By the time this is all over, they will feel special; they will have honored our God and gotten the candy they want. For us the point is to teach our children they can live in the world without being part of it. I am grateful for God and the way he reveal his wisdom and the ability to hear his words.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Don't let her have the Final Word

I read with anger an editorial by Christina Blizzard in her column The Final Say. She was commenting about the US wanting to close it's borders to Canada and how a Cabinet member is not around to handle this crisis because she is on materinity leave. It is so far out there that I hope it is satire. But if it is not, read it and be amazed at the ignorance of some people. I am outraged that she actually put her thoughts in writing. I can only imagine the feedback she must be getting. Read it for yourself, I think you will agree, it should not be the final word.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Look what a woman can do!!!

I am always amazed at what a woman can do when they get an idea. Read this article from Oprah's magazine. The article called Women Entrepreneurs tells the story of five women who made it big. They were average women who did extraordinary things.

I really appreciated this quote from
Victoria Knight-McDowell: She says, "Ordinary women, people like me who don't have Harvard MBAs, are not encouraged to start businesses. But one thing I did from the very beginning was ask a lot of questions. I didn't know the difference between a P&L and a balance sheet, so I asked the woman who was helping me at the bank. I'm still asking questions; now it's about distribution channels and streamlining." Read the article, it is an encouragement.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The key is learning the lessons in the midst of the disappointments

I have been pretty up beat for the past few weeks so I should not have been surprised when I started to experience a low day. After all, you can't appreciate the highs without the lows. So today I had a child who went to school relatively well, and then I got the call - David's sick with a fever. So off I was to get him.

In my mind memories of last year and the winter of illness started to flood my whole being. Oh no, I don't want to do this again. How can I run a business? How can I make plans? Maybe I should home school and protect them from the world and it's germs. Calm down, Lia. Take a deep breath. As soon as I noticed all this noise and unrest in my head and felt it in my body, I got on the phone. I started calling the people in my life that will tell me I am not crazy. The ones who will encourage me and support me. I shared my fears and concerns and they said all the right things. Then I shared my anger over some work issues, and they of course told me to stay the course.

For me, this is a victory. I did not sit in it for too long. In fact, only as long as it took me to dial the phone. I am taking care of myself. I am surrounding myself with nurturing people and being open to the love and feedback. All in a days work for a streetsmart mom.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A cup of coffee and some friends . . .

It just doesn't get much better than that. On a bi-weekly basis I get together with some friends who are moms, entrepreneurs and soul mates. When we get together you can see the sparks and energy as we brainstorm. What makes it so special is that by the time we leave our two hour sessions, we have a to do list and a due date. I left with my marching orders: Create a community for moms who are passionate about life and living. Not just surviving but creating a real ful-filling life. My mind was reeling.

So as soon as I got home I listened to a CD on how to build a subscription web site by Milana Leshinsky. I then created a forum, chat room and mini-poll to add to my web site. So now I can take it easy for the next two weeks, right? No, now is the hard part, content and maintenance. Wish me luck and feel free to offer any advice and contribute. I welcome the feedback.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What a night!

After months of planning, it finally came. Women's Network brought in Soni Dimond to present about Power Talk and her new book "Life's a Pitch." She was great, the food was good and there was a great atmosphere. There was tons of stuff that she said that I really appreciated, and what I enjoyed most was one saying: "Don't build me the clock, just tell me the time." That statement alone was worth the price admission. How many times have I been talking to my husband (I process verbally, so it takes me a while to figure it all out) and my husband who is technical in nature wants me to just get to the point. The good news is he loves me any way and I also love him for being so direct and to the point. We have to embrace the differences for it is in this that we can come together to appreciate what we have in common.

Monday, October 17, 2005

If it works, who cares

I read a great article today about working moms getting a night off (a ladies night out). What was different about this article was these moms have husbands who are stay-at-home dads. As they shared with each other they noted it is not always easy because not everyone understands their arrangement. Of course if they were stay-at-home moms and their husbands worked it would be a no-brainer. Let's face it we are not playing on a level playing field.

The truth is there are times when the husband might be the better choice. Also, sometimes that is a better option based on earning potential. What really matters is that it is working for these families. I always focus on the kids. For me selling my business and becoming a sales consultant/coach was hard but it was the best choice. I could have chosen to steam ahead and put my kids in day care. But then that would not have been the right choice for me. I am happy and content. For these families they know their kids are safe and their husbands are really involved. I think that is what matters.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I'm still organizing and decluttering

Will this ever end? Actually, I am enjoying this. You know it's bad when it takes days to do one room. Granted I am squeezing it in to my life around work and kids. What makes this time different? After all I have tried to do this many times before. Hmm. Thank you for asking.

After careful consideration, I realize that I am ready, and I have gone about it from a different angle. You see I started listening to Anthony Robbins Personal Power. Before, when I did not declutter, it was because I associated the act of decluttering with pain and stress. So it was a negative experience. After listening to his tapes I realized I needed to focus on the outcome, the joy and the benefits of a clutter-free life. Bam, it hit. I am only on tape three, and I cannot tell you how empowered I feel. I have listened to tape three twice because I am a slow learner, but usually once I learn something I get it for good. There is no stopping me now.

I cannot tell you how my perspective on life has changed in just one week, just because I reached out for help, was open to listen and decided to change my behavior and try something new. I must say this is hard work and takes time. I also must say it is worth it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Is it me or have we gone too far?

I just read an article that on first blush seemed exciting to me. I am always excited when I see a business that is born out of a necessity. After all that's what entrepreneurs do. The premise of the article Metro Moms . . . is that families, in particular working mothers, face the challenge of working part-time or leaving work early so their kids can participate in afterschool and enrichment activities. Or they must just say no to their kids. To fill this need some resourceful entrepreneurs have created a buisness of transporting kids from school to activities or baby sitters. Seems pretty simple. Have problem, create a solution - win/win, right?

Then I got to thinking, what if the solution was to slow down. When I added up the possible cost of all this running and thought about the other expenses of working including baby sitting or after school programs/latch key programs, I couldn't help but wonder, what if we just said no to work. This might be easy for me to say because I have chosen to work part-time as a consultant/coach. This allows me the flexibility to have my cake and eat it to. I still have times when my kids need to stay late at school, or I have to make arrangements on the days they have off and the world does not. Yet, I also can go to PA meetings and talk to the teachers each day to see how my boys did. We play and color and work on projects every day.

If I had a traditional job it would actually cost me money to work based on what I would have to pay to have my kids taken care of when they were not in school. Not to mention when they get sick. Don't get me started on that. So I guess I am say that I like that there are people stepping forward to create industry where it is needed and also consider the option of creating alternative solutions of your own.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Can it be that simple?

Today I did something amazing. I spent two hours with a professional organizer who held my hand and helped me set up a filing system. Now you must know that I really do know how to file. In fact, I did this for a living for my clients. But it is interesting how different it is when you have to take care of your own stuff.

What is really amazing is the simple filing system that Tammy developed. I bought it from her and then she came and helped me set it up. (Normal people don't need that, I do) There are no words to describe how liberating today has been. A weight has been lifted. I feel a lightness that I cannot explain. I must admit for the first time I can say the fear is gone. I have been paralyzed by the papers. When we first started it was all I could do to hold the papers and envelopes in my lap. I could hardly bring myself to open them. Tammy took pity on me and helped me through the process. By the time she left, I was opening envelops with abandon. After she left I literally went through two years worth of envelopes and junk mail and filled three garbage bags. I am not only caught up, but I can tell you where my things are and why.

No, I cannot explain how this happened. It is a God thing. God brought Tammy into my life and then he gave me the courage to ask for help. He also let me do this with some dignity. I didn't even get sick. Usually just talking about the bills is enough to make me feel ill. I am so grateful. You have to check out her filing system, it is not only functional but pretty and it comes with instructions that are easy and fun to read. She calls it FindnFile. I am in awe.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It's a myth-understanding . . .

I will be the first to admit that finances are not my forte. In fact, it is my achilles heel. So I am striving to conquer this, for I have been told "Your biggest fear will become your biggest strength once you have conquered it." To that end I am doing research to understand it more and maybe to reveal why this is such a monumental challenge for me. I even called my mom and asked her to try to see if there were any messages that I might have gotten in my childhood that would be affecting my current financial reality. Much to my dismay, she could not think of any so I am on my own to muddle through this one.

In my research I came across an interesting article on the Myths of Finances and I thought it was good enough to share. Of course reading an article has not cured me of this life long phobia, but it is a step in the right direction. Enjoy.

Joys of Friendship

I have had time lately to reflect on life and it's nuances. Yes, I am actually making time for reflection. Upon these moments I have come to realize that one of the greatest joys in life is friendship.

I have some great friends in my life. My husband has been my best friend for the last 23 years.
You can imagine in the last 23 years we have grown. The best part is we grew together. I think in a great marriage one can say "You complete me," like in the movie Jerry McGuire. Not to say that you are nothing with out that person, but that the two together make even more than one. The two are greater than the whole. For me that is what I have in my husband.

And then there's Kathleen. She entered my life about 8 years ago and from the time we met it was like we had been friends our whole lives. Our friendship is interesting. There are times when we see each other on a daily or weekly basis and then times when it can be a month before we have a chance to have a meaningful conversation on the phone. Sometimes I just go to be in her presence, not needing anything but her being. And there are other times when I really ask for a hand up. The best part is she can do the same with me. She's my sanity check when the world seems a little askew. We laugh together and cry together. You rarely find someone with that kind of bond, and when you do it is amazing. The best part of our friendship is that I know it will be timeless. No matter where we are and what we are doing, we will be able to pick up where we left off.

Why am I sharing all of this? First because I am feeling it, so I am naming it. But more importantly, because I believe to be a streetsmart mom you have to acknowledge that you cannot do it alone. You are as strong as your weakest link and with strong bonds of friendship, your links only get stronger and become reinforced. Without a great friend in your life, it is hard. And quite frankly not much fun. So make time for the friends.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I'm on a roll . . .

but I must not sit down or I might fall asleep. Now that I see my desk it's time to face the other areas. Today I tackled a big one, all the stuff from my previous business. I am amazed at how well I did. It was my baby before my children so I expected lots of emotional garbage to go along with the process. Much to my surprise it was minimal. For the most part it was a like a walk through a memory, I never felt stuck. Yes, a twinge of sadness, some regrets, some laughs over how I little I knew when I started and how much I had grown. Overall it was a positive experience. I must say it is hard to let go, but I know that is not who I am today and I am learning to embrace my life now. I must move on.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I can see my desk!!!!

Banner day in my home office. I have a great friend who agreed to hold my hand as I sorted, discarded and talked about life. As we solved the world's woes, or at least those in our control, we accomplished a lot. I have a pile of stuff to discard, to keep and put away, and a plan of action for the office. The best part is that I will be doing the same for her next week. We decided to help each other. Let's face it, it's easy to do when it's not yours. So she was ruthless with my stuff and helped me be realistic. I will be able to do the same with her stuff. It's awesome.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Okay, He said it -- out loud

I knew it was in there, but today he actually articulated it. He feels that I have the kids in school too much. In particular David. I knew he thought that, but I was hoping it was getting better. So now what do I do?

My dilemma is that I have certain hours I must work because of our training schedule, and there are times I need to leave open for appointments. The truth is that I really need "Lia" time. I have truly been spoiled the last month and really enjoying my schedule. So the thought of giving up any of the time is a bit depressing. I also think it might be disruptive to the system that seems to be working right now.

Well wish me luck and any prayers you want to send my way would be appreciated as I work through this and find a way to make this work. The last thing I want is to harm the family so I can have time. So I will really review this and decide.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Streetsmart Moms have a Just Do It Mentality

Let's face it, life really does come at you fast. In a blink of an eye, the kids are in school and the memories are a blur. Streetsmart Moms can think on their feet. We tend to have to multi-task. We have a load of laundry in the washer, one in the dryer, food in the crockpot, we answer our emails, catch the cell phone and change a diaper, all within minutes.

"It's so hard when contemplated in advance, and so easy when you do it."
Robert M. Pirsig
I am sure many great things happened because someone just did something without going to a committee or finishing their degree or calling for approval. Sometimes we just have to go for it. As Ms. Frizzle says on the Magic School Bus "Take chances, get dirty." So go for it!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Does your Business Plan include the Kids?

This has always been my dilemma. How do you balance your business and it's activities and behaviors and being a mom and time with the kids. It seems there are days when my business takes over like a Tuesday when I start my day with a meeting and end it in the evening with a meeting. On those days, quality time with the kids is non-existent. Yet there are days when I can play all day and do my follow up with a quick email. The kids and I get to play and I still get a little work in. I just read an interesting article that points out the pitfalls of entrepreneurs with kids. It's part of Entrepreneurs series I read on line. Check it out.

The point is to plan balance in your business and life now and not when you are successful. Also, if you become successful be sure you handle the success well. I really appreciate the wisdom of the people who have gone before me.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Supermom vs. Deer in the Headlights

Okay, I admit it, I think differently than most. That isn't always a bad thing, right? Anyway, I was thinking about the reason we are so busy and so crazed lately in this society. Then I remembered the image of what I call the "Super Mom." There was a commercial for a perfume that had a women who could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never, never let her husband forget he was a man. She was of course beautiful and seductive, with no stains on her clothes and all her hairs were in there place. Kind of like this women.

But the reality is that we try to do it all and we don't look like that. I am sure I am speaking only for myself, but on my best day I don't look like that. Why is the reality and the media image so different? I don't know, probably the people writing those messages are men. Fantasy is always better than reality. For me I look more like a deer looks like when they are faced with headlights or this other image I found. Makeup hides a multitude of circles.

So what is my point. Simply, don't be so hard on yourself. Do the best you can do in the moment you are. Be the best you can be. Learn to control what you can and ignore the rest. Ask for help and take naps. You life is short and there will always be laundry. Take time for a cup of coffee with a friend.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

For moms who want to work from home . . .

One of the things I hear on a daily basis and sometimes hourly is how do you work from home? There are a lot of moms out there looking for a way to spend more time with their children and get some balance in their lives. That is something I am passionate about. I have been doing a lot of research on various web sites found that we are not alone. In fact there is a whole industry around the desire for a better quality of life which is quantified in time not necessarily money. Sure money is important, but at what cost.

Here is just one web site that I found that offers options and resources. It is a directory of careers that you can do from home. It is pretty cool and it has some tools you can download free. Check it out: E-Directory of Homebased Businesses. Let me know what you think once you use it. I have found it to be useful.

Friday, September 23, 2005

What do you do about the guilt?

I have to admit I have been feeling guilty. I have been having a good time balancing work, home and family. Yet there is this underlying feeling of "I should be with the boys more." Specifically, my youngest David who is 3. I tell myself that he's having a great time at school, playing and learning. So why do I feel guilty?

Is it that I am having fun? Am I not allowed to have fun? Is motherhood supposed to be only work and no play? I hear voices from my past and some from my current about "how motherhood is supposed to be enough" "why aren't you satisfied with being a mom" "why do you need to be so busy with outside activities?" Sometimes the voices are so loud it is hard to think.

Well I am here to say that I am a better mom because of all that I do. Yes, being a mom is important to me. I love my kids more than anything. I also love being in business and helping my clients reach their goals in sales through training and coaching. And I love having a few minutes to go to the supermarket by myself or to the mall. I love going to Borders to read a book, meet some friends and have a cup of coffee. Without all of this, I would deny my whole self and be incomplete. That would not be a great mom. That would be an unhappy mom. So I think that the guilt is okay and normal. It is probably a healthy way to keep yourself in check. I think the lessons my boys are getting by watching me be true to myself is helping them in the future as they become healthy adults.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Results Are In

Working Mother has done it again. They created a report with the100 Best Companies . There was lots of criteria in five main areas which include: Flexibility, Leave for New Parents, Child Care, Work/Life and Advancing Women. I think it makes a great read and hope you will check it out. The truth is that companies are realizing that women are workforce to be reckoned with and are adjusting their corporate culture to reflect that.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

And now for something completely different . . .

Well not really different, just interesting. Today was this year's first official PA (Parent Association) meeting at the school. Last year I got pretty involved with the PA and have made a commitment to continue with that involvement. After all, my kids are in the school's care, and I want to be sure I know what is going on and can help to improve their already amazing experience. It seems simple to me, the goal is to make the school a great place for the teachers to work, the students to learn and the parents to feel comfortable with the whole experience.

And as always in an organization with a Board, this is a new team with a new leader. So consequently there is a new agenda. Not a problem, we all want the same thing, right? So why do I feel so weird and uncomfortable after today's meeting? Flags are flying, and I am concerned. The good news is that we are all in this together, and I know the parents really do want what is best for the school. So even though I am not sure what I am feeling and why, I know it will all work out in the end. I am going to stay focused on the big picture and not get stuck in the little distractions. Those things will be handled and the kids will have a great year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I have a schedule - for now. . .

Those who know me know that I am resistant to schedules because I have always lived life by the seat of my pants. So I fight anything that makes me feel boxed in. Then the kids came, and I also wanted to have a business, and a life. So it became apparent that a schedule was critical to any sanity I might want in my life. Fast forward to today. The boys are in school, and I have some discretionary time. Hmm. What do I do now? Why was I so lost? Then it hit me, just block out what I want and see how it works.

So here it is, Lia's schedule. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are my "work" days. That means that I will do my best to keep all my appointments on those days. Monday and Friday are my free days. That does not mean I sit home and eat bon bons all day (by the what's a bon bon?). It means that I can schedule appointments on those days or not. I can clean my house if I want to on those days. I can get a hair cut or have lunch with a friend. The sky is the limit. I can even go back to bed. So what does this do for me?

It is so liberating. I know that I have a good chunk of time to work and be productive. I also have enough time set aside for other things so I don't feel cheated or deprived. And, I have allowed myself flexibility in my schedule that if I need to do a personal task on a Tuesday that's ok, and if a seminar is on a Friday, no sweat. The main thing is I have the parameters set, and I can make good decisions now. Wow.

Monday, September 12, 2005

We're doing the Potty Dance

Did I mention that David is Potty Trained? And the truth is that he did it himself. We spent a week in Florida with two very accessible (and fun) bathrooms and lots of people to dote over every body function. So it did not take long to have a great week with lots of dancing and celebrating. Then came the ride home from Florida to PA. I stopped counting at 10 the number of bathrooms we used along the way, but it was worth all of them (well not all, some were pretty bad). David stayed dry and was feeling quite proud. Sunday Jim took him out to pick his very own underwear. Needless to say everyone who can fog a mirror has heard about this be accomplishment and usually get to see the cool NASCAR underwear.

As for the proud parents, we are thrilled. I suddenly realized I have not been without a diaper in my life for almost 7 years. This is way too cool.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Stuck in a groove . . .

Jim, my husband, pointed out that my posts have been few and far between. I know he meant that lovingly and that he also enjoys reading them and was just waiting for my next post. So instead of being angry at the feedback, I took it as a great boost.

So why haven't I written? Hmm. Well, life has been crazy. The truth is that I cannot seem to get my act together. I get one area of my life grooving, something else falters. The real kick is that I have more discretionary time than ever. So why isn't it working.?

It is true, life does fill up whatever time you have. So when I had less time, I seemed to get more done. Why does that happen? When you find out, let me know. So with all this in mind, I am trying to create a schedule, get some practices in place and get organized so that I can get my groove back. I don't want to get stuck in one groove. I'd rather be able to move throughout the grooves seamlessly. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

It's been a Long, Long Ride

Where has the summer gone? Where have I been? Why did I disappear to? After Grandma died it just got a bit crazy.

We spent a week in NY taking care of the family business. We then came home for a day and a half and we were off for our vacation. Yes, we drove to Florida (with two kids). No awards are necessary. Yes we are amazing. And yes the kids are still alive to tell the story. Seriously, it was a great trip and the kids were terrific. We were home two days before we started the whole school thing. Yes, the kids are back in school.

So why do I feel sooo weird. I cannot shake this sad, melancholy. A feeling of dread. It might be the disaster in the Gulf. Even when you try not to watch you cannot help seeing the images of hopelessness. Or maybe it is the feeling that my boys are growing up. Or is it fear on embarking on a new life with kids in school and the guilt of putting in David in extra school so I can have more time. Hmmm. Lots to think about.

So you can see why I feel like I am on a roller coaster and I've just slowly climbed the hill and as I peak over the top I do not know what I am heading into. I pray for guidance on this ride.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

It's Over

Grandma's long, courageous battle is finally over. The Lord has finally brought her into his fold. Carole, my mother-in-law said she went peacufully in her sleep as she had prayed for. Now is the hard part. The missing part. I already feel the emptiness, and I didn't see her often because we live so far away. I can only imagine what Carole is feeling. The good news is she has a terrific support group of people who have surrounded her with love and support and are holding her hand every step of the way. I look forward to giving her a hug.

As for the kids, Jim, as always, was so sweet. He was gentle with the boys as he explained to them. They clearly understood. Then David gave his Dad a hug. It was tremendous. Tom, being a boy of what's next, asked when is the funeral. It's amazing what kids can handle and how well they do. I love them.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

How did my Mom do it?

How can two boys who kiss and hug each other one minute wrestle the next? I know my Mom said my sister and I fought like crazy (ok I also remember), and now we are best friends. The question is how do the boys live to become friends? How do I survive? I decided to do some research and found a cool website and an article on Why Siblings Fight. I hope you enjoy it. I plan on reading it over and over till I figure something out. It's either that or some really strong Duct Tape.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Plan - For What It's Worth

Well I heard it again yesterday at a Toastmaster's Officer's training meeting - First you must create then plan and then you must work the plan. Hmm. Sounds good.

The Plan - When School Starts (yipee - can you see me dancing)
  • Get back on track with God no matter what the distractions.
  • Work the equivalent of three full days - work around kids school schedule.
  • Organize the house and declutter - get help from Organize it All.
  • Get bills organized and a budget - we have big goals that depend on this.
  • Have at least 3 hours of "me" time a week - the hardest one to visualize.

The Goal - The Why
When I do all that I say that I am going to do, I will reap the benefits of:
  • A cluttered free mind and home.
  • A spiritual awakening and joy once again.
  • Security and bent toward the future.
  • Peace of mind.

Consider it done - or as it might be said "make it so."

Since I Gave Up, God Took Over

Thanks God. Today I can say that I rode out that storm. It was brief and turbulent, and in the end all survived. A bit wounded, but not life threatening. What I have learned is that I cannot do it all. I need to ask for help, sooner. I need to create time for me, sooner. I mean it needs to get on my calendar first and then fill in appointments. I also learned that meetings out side the home does not count as "me" time. I also learned that God can't help me until I am ready. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Okay, I give up!!!

Last night I hit the wall. It has been a difficult week. Although my performance in my sales career has been excellent, my personal life just went crazy. On Monday my kids had a bad hair day and they weren't going alone. Apparently while they were at camp, when they weren't in time out, they were terrorizing the other little campers. Let's just say an incident report needed to be filled out. I get a call to come and get them and by they way they might not be welcome back. Then came Tuesday. This is a day that I normally have a weekly training from 8:00 to 11:00. What I thought was a reliable sitter turned out not to be as reliable as I needed. Okay, she has not been dependable in the past, but I had no one else (my bad) so I counted out her. Well, we must have had what we call "mutual mystification" because she never came and she did not think she was supposed to be there. That was different from my understanding. Needless to say, I was beside myself, which is hard to do. On top of that I don't have air conditioning and it was hot, really hot.

So at 12:00 in the morning, after my kids woke up for more water, I could not go to sleep. My mind was racing. My life seemed hopeless. I was making plans (okay, I'm being dramatic). I literally got out of bed so I wouldn't wake Jim up with my crying. He woke up and came down and just sat with me and we had a very incoherent conversation through my tears and then I could sleep. But poor Jim now was awake. He eventually went to sleep.

The sun rose and it was a new day. I cleared my mind and decided I was going to take charge so I had a pow wow with the boys about what they would do in camp today. I knew they would comply, after all the alternatives were not pretty. I went to work and had a great day doing what I love to do. I set up my plan for child care for Tuesday's and Thursday (starting next Tuesday). I took the boys to the game room at the mall and got them popcorn. We had a fun dinner and went to VBS.

Yes, today was a much better day. My mind was clear and I was able to channel my resources to develop and implement a plan. Thanks for the morning.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Endless Summer Syndrome - It's Got a Name

I knew I wasn't crazy (yet). Here is proof. Read this article and step into my world. Hope you enjoy it.

Whelton: Coping with Endless Summer Syndrome

By Jack Whelton/ Among Friends
Friday, July 29, 2005

So when you are feeling a little crazy and the you start to check how much gas you have in the tank and how far it will take you, remember September is almost here.

Friday, July 29, 2005

A date - With My Son

My husband and I were talking about how hard it is to spend special time with each of or boys. When we just had Tom, Jim had time to take him for their special walks or bike rides. And Tom and I spent lots of one-on-one time. Then came David. He is a joy to be around, most of the time. But the quandary became, when does Tom get just us. And David was always part of a team.

Tonight we tried something and I think it worked. I took Tom and Jim took David. Jim is not back yet so I don't know how their night has gone. By the way, where are they those dirty stay outs. As for Tom and I, we had a great night. We met a friend and the kids played in a gym - ran and jumped till they were dripping with sweat. Then we went to dinner. It's interesting how the dynamics are so different when Tom does not have to compete with David. It was very nice. I could tell Tom really appreciated it, he was beaming.

Next we will change things up a little and I will take David and Jim will take Tom. If we do this once a month for each that will give us each a night out with the boys. Now we just have to find time for a date for mommy and daddy. Hmm.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Remember Count to Ten

I called a friend today and immediately I realized she was having one of those moments. You know them, the one where you think if you could just catch your kids you would woop them. Apparently it had been a day of moments like that on top of a particularly difficult day for her physically. I offered to come over and help clean up the mess she was cleaning and she declined. I let her know I was available if she needed me, as always.

Later in the day I called to check in to see if anyone ended up in the hospital or was she ready for the rubber room. By then things were calming down. What changed? When I first called she was able to vent. She then sent the kids to their rooms and gave herself some space. And then, this was key, she took a shower. It's amazing how cathartic a shower can be. She was able to start fresh and clean with enough energy to face the rest of the day. Until tomorrow.

So when the day is crazy, get a shower. Seriously, when I was in my "self-awareness" mode and working on my issues many years back, I remember hearing at a meeting that when you are having a day that seems to be spiraling out of control you should literally get back in bed, get out of bed and start the day over, including taking a shower. I have actually done that and it works. So if you need to start your day over, go ahead, I give you permission to go back to bed, and while your there feel free to take a nap.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Life is Hard, But God Is Good

It has been a difficult weekend. My husband's grandmother is in a nursing home and not doing well. In fact, we got the call that she might be on her last leg. We've gotten this call several times before (Grandma is called the "Energizer Bunny" because of her come backs in the past) but this time it seemed more serious. So off we went to see her in New York.

I have known Grandma for 23 years, and she really is my Grandma now. Death is not easy and it is especially hard when it is a long, tortured death. Grandma is a woman of dignity and selfless, which makes it all the more difficult to watch. For a brief moment, I feel anger as to why this is happening the way it is. Certainly she deserves a more dignified return home to the Lord. And then I remember it is not my will but His.

I don't often talk about my faith here, but for this I must. Life has been hard but God has been good. Even in this situation I see God at work. I see the people who have taken care of Grandma for the last year rally around her to really take care of her now. I see my mother-in-law share her faith even in these hard times. I see my whole family show their strength during a very difficult time. What has made the difference? It has been our faith. I thank you God for that.

We love Grandma and don't want to see her go, and we also know that life here on earth is temporary so it won't be long till we are all together. God, we sit in your will and wait, patiently.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Where has the summer gone????

I cannot believe it is July 21st. The summer seems to have flown by. I remember wondering how are we were going to get through the summer and here it is almost over. So what have we been up to?

  • We went to visit family in NY for a time. That was very relaxing.
  • We spent a week helping sell fireworks with my husband's fireworks business. That was fun.
  • We started a camp for the boys which allowed me to got back to some work. That has been great.
  • We joined the health club which has a pool and we've spent lots of time there. That has been the best.

Throughout this I have learned some valuable lessons. Something I already knew but needed to re-learn at a much deeper level. I am at my best when I work hard, play hard and rest hard. When I become the "grouchy mom" it is because I am out of balance. If I do not take care or me, well let's just say "when mom's not happy, ain't nobody happy."

I have also learned to really take care of my "I" and not focus on the "R". "I" means who I am or my identity. "R" means my role. Most people get them confused, especially moms. We get lost in our "R" and for get we "I". And, if we have a bad "R" day we feel like bad people when we just had a bad day. I needed to really get that. I now I know I did. That has been the best lesson learned this summer.

So now when "I" am busy being a mom in my "R" , I am not wishing "I" was at work because I am enjoying my "R". Also, if I have a bad hair day as a mom, which happens every now and then (she says tongue in cheek) I am not devastated. "I" review what I could have done better or different in my mom role and then I move on, because "I" am still a valuable human being.

Pretty heavy stuff. Sorry for that but I needed to say it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

6 Year's Old????

This week Tom turns 6, and it seems to have been a blink of an eye. When did that happen? I can still remember nursing him, over and over. In fact my husband thought I never left that spot on the couch. I was there in the morning when he left for work and there when he got home.

Time, or the concept of time, has changed since the boys have come. What seemed like a life time is now just a moment in time. And for the kids it is the opposite. If they are looking forward to something like a special play date, the day's seems like years. It's kind of fascinating.

For me, I work on the here and now. My goal is to keep one eye on the future (goals and dreams) while the other eye is busy looking at the present. How sad to reach the goal and miss the journey. I pray for the wisdom and patience to accomplish these things while maintaining a modicum of grace.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Independence Day

It has been a while since I blogged. What have I been up to? Well, I have been helping my husband with his fireworks stand. Every year he takes a week off and sets up a stand and sells fireworks. Fireworks are his passion. He's loved them since he was a boy. I must admit that it was a challenge to do this. It was 12 days from home. The days were long and hot. My kids were great. We brought toys and packed snacks and food. We ate a lot at a pizza shop that was behind us. My kids think the chef is the best. My youngest enjoyed potty training this week and we made great progress (I guess it is cool to use a bathroom at the restaurant) plus it didn't hurt that he got party poppers every time he performed.

Here's the best part. Although this was challenging to do, and I might add exhausting, it sparked a light in Jim's dream pilot. He felt, once again, the exhilaration of being in business for himself and realized that it was what he enjoyed. He said he didn't mind the long hours and hard work. He was able to work for himself and spend time with us. He hopes to someday find a business that can help him achieve that sense of independence. I plan on helping him. It was nice to see him feel good for one week.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hold on to the Dream

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, and I must admit sad. It has been a difficult month, and I am having a hard time getting out of my funk. As is my usual custom, I have been trying to figure out why this is happening. After some thought I think I have some answers. I have been busy doing and have taken my eyes off the goal. I got so caught up in fulfilling all my roles, I lost sight of my goals. If that wasn't bad enough, I suddenly realized that my dreams (goals) are not the same as those around me. I think that was the hardest revelation. So I am experiencing some grief. I need to re-think my plan and look at my goals. And then I need to take hold of my dreams and move toward them.

Well it is not going to be easy, but I will persevere. I honestly don't know how, I am feeling a bit lonely, but I will pray and ask for wisdom, guidance and discernment. I know it is not my plans that I am working but His.

Monday, June 20, 2005

When all else fails, do something!

As I get back on my feet, I am slowly making progress again. What I am finding out is that I am getting back to basics. I know what works and what doesn't. So for now I am working what works and will work on developing what doesn't. That is if it makes sense to work on it.

The one thing that I am finding that I resist the most is a system. Being confined to a box. Rules, structure and guidelines. Hmmm. What my kids need most are structure, set and defined boundaries and rules. Hmmm. This is quite a dilemma and explains why I feel like a fish out of water most of the time. Help, I can't breathe.

Okay, it's not that bad, but sometimes it feels that way. So I will muddle through and figure it out. But the truth is that I have determined I cannot do it myself, alone. I am reaching out big time. I am calling in all my buddies and saying I am lost and need help. That is hard for me. I have been raised to be self-sufficient. "Get over it, other people have it worse than you. Just pick yourself up and do it."

Well I am, just my way. In the meantime, I bought myself an old fashioned planner and I am getting busy developing a plan. Wish me luck and say a prayer.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day

Isn't it great there is a day to celebrate all the Father's of the world. I know my husband, the father of my two boys certainly deserves celebration. I am letting him sleep in late today and will make him a yummy breakfast and then I have a surprise for him for the afternoon. But why do we celebrate fathers?

I celebrate fathers because without them I would be insane. Jim gives the boys structure and leadership. He is tender and firm with them. He shares the burden of raising my two boys, and at times, takes on more than his share, depending on where I am in my life. We are a team. Without him I would be useless as a mom. I would have to look elsewhere for help and he is the perfect helpmate.

James Dobson in his books on parenting comments on how critical a father's role is in a child's life. The fact that so many families are being raised without fathers is going to play a pivotal role in the families that are faced with that situation. He commented on the numerous studies of men in prison who are lifetime criminals and the fact that most of them were raised in a single parent home, without a dad. Obviously, this cannot be avoided sometimes. And sometimes it is better to be a single parent than have both in the home depending on the relationship and the parents. But all things being equal, children need two loving parents to make them well rounded and loving individuals when they grow up.

So for all the father's out there, especially my husband, Happy Father's Day. We could not do it without you.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Here comes the Sun . . .

I woke up this morning to a 3 year old climbing in bed with me because he wanted to snuggle, the birds chirping and the sun shining. It was pretty awesome. Okay, it was only 6:30 in the morning, but it was a beautiful 6:30 in the morning. It has been great taking this time for myself to regenerate my batteries. As I sit here in the morning listening to my boys play and enjoy the crisp air, I feel grateful for even the stress and anxiety I feel. For at least I feel something.

Tomorrow who knows what life will bring so I try to live in the moment, even when it isn't comfortable. I learn to stretch my comfort zone and grow as a person. It's like being in life's gym. There are some days you just need a shower after a long work out and others where you need to just sleep from the exhaustion. But usually you want to enjoy the workout. Life is great. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Where in the world is this Streetsmartmom?

You probably have noticed a lack of information on this blog. I try not to miss a week of blogging. However, recently I felt the need to retreat into myself to re-group and re-think my world. I recently was given some feedback from someone who is important to me that was not what I expecting to hear. My world became a little shaky. So I have taken a break to think, and try to understand the source of the feedback and the nature of the feedback.

After taking my own advice and getting some extreme self-care, I have come to the conclusion that I am ok. I just need to re-group. My (I) or Idenity was shaken because I was told my (R) how I was performing in a particular Role was not meeting someone's expectations. Wow, for a mom and a women, that was a blow. But then I put it in perspective and came away with my usual life lessons.

I am still ok. I am an I-10 (I am a good and whole person, the way God created me) even though my R is a 3 at times. So I am going to change what I can. I am going to work on the R - improve my role by developing a plan of action and working the plan. That should improve my performance. The best part is that I realize that I am always ok no matter whether I am good at something or not. It takes practice to be good at something, but not practice to be me. I am me. So I am off to work on the Role. I will keep you posted on how I do.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Take Care of Mom!!!! Posted by Hello

When Mom's not Happy

Maybe the moon is full or there is a convergence of PMS, but I have spoken to several moms who are in desperate need of a vacation. Not a vacation, like Disney World, but a vacation from their families. Yes, we love our families. Yet, from what I am hearing, it has become apparent to me that in the midst of taking care of the world, we have forgotten to take care of our selves.

I believe this is more common than not. I have yet to figure out how to create a schedule that has "mommy preservation" time built in. For me what happens is that one day I wake up and find that I am feeling crazy. Then my husband or someone will pitch in so I can take a break. Why don't I make that part of my regular plan instead of an emergency option? Good question. I don't know but I will work on that.

For now I am focused on a warm and memorable summer. How do I do that? How do I not allow the world to take me over? How do I maintain some sanity? I am joining a pool/health club. Yes, we will lounge and play and I will work out. I cannot wait. I forget how much I need it. My husband will get what he needs also, a wife who is happy and hopefully more toned. The kids will get a happy mommy that is not so grumpy. All in all it sounds like a great plan. I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, keep the air mask scenario in mind. If you don't take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

When you think you are at the brim, read on

Here is a story I received from a Street Smart Mom. I don't know the origin and it's a little long, but worth the read. I hope it is an encouragement to you or someone you know.

The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Cups of Coffee

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else---the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

<>One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Thank You Woman's Day

Honestly, I have been having a very difficult week. Besides the "things" that are happening, my hormones are completely out of control. So, you can imagine life with Lia is no bowl of cherries. My husband is really trying to help and be sensitive. The kids are great. What's a girl to do? I cannot cry all day and sleep is just not on the schedule.

To help ease the tension I gave myself a little slack today and enjoyed a good read. I love to read. I opened up my new copy of Woman's Day. I find magazines to be a great escape, they are easy to read with short articles that are to the point and informative. They are nice to look at, and I usually learn something. Today was no exception. Just when I needed it most (Thank you God) I came across an article on guilt called: Ditch the Guilt. It was a good article and it had a little box called: Try This Reality Check. It asks two questions:

  1. Does my guilt about a specific situation help me accomplish anything?
  2. Can my guilt change the way I will handle a situation in the future?

If you answered "no" to either question, ditch the guilt. If "yes," use your guilt as a springboard for positive change.

That really resonated with me today. I don't know if it was my up bringing or just a mom gene, but guilt is something I do well. But now I have something to use as a barometer to see if this is a feeling that will help. If it doesn't, move on. Today I will chose to own it and use it to learn, grow and conquer something that is holding me back.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

It's Starting To Get Exciting

Although I have anxiety over the summer, I am excited. Yesterday, Tom's backpack was filled with class projects that he gets to keep. It is clear the teacher is transitioning the children for the end of a great year. As we plan for the summer, she needs to start letting go.

As I think about it, I realize that she has grown to love our little ones and will miss them, warts and all. For her she must feel a great sense of accomplishment as she has seen my little guy go from a boy who seemed somewhat tentative and insecure to a boy who is clearly coming into his own. He is much more confident and willing to try new things, feels like he is in a place where it is safe to make mistakes and a place where he can be himself. And that is just my little fella, imagine that times 9. What a great sense of pride she must have.

His teacher also knows that she will see some of these kids in the hall next year, as some have decided to stay with the school. She knows no matter where she is in the school, when one of her little protege's sees her they will come running to give her a hug and tell her all about their day. His teacher also knows that next year is a new year with a new batch of little ones that she will touch and help mold into clear thinkers, problem solvers and loving children.

We have been blessed with Mrs. Rambeau this year, and I know my kids have been placed where they were supposed to be. Next it's number two, David. He will get his chance in two years. I cannot wait for another year with Mrs. Rambeau.

Friday, May 20, 2005

It's a New Day Today

Today was much better than yesterday. My babysitter came through today. I had two great meetings and got to spend some quality time with my family. All in all a good day.

So what have I learned this week. You know I need to gain my lessons, if I am going to suffer growing pains.

  • Have a Plan B before I need it. In fact today I was prepared to implement Plan B and was pleased to see that was not necessary.
  • Realize that I am a Mom with a Business not a Business Owner with children. Big difference.
  • I need to set realistic expectations of myself and then communicate those to the people that need to know.
  • That it is okay to share how you feel about something and then release it's energy. I was able to send a email to my sitter about the situation and we were able to work things out. Both of us, I believe, got our needs met and maintained a crucial relationship.
It's hard sometimes being a Streetsmart Mom, but it's worth it.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Even a Street Smart Mom Can Have a Off Day

It started like any other day until I found a message on my cell phone at 7:52am (never good news that early in the morning) that my baby sitter could not make it because she had things to do. As I stressed about what to do, I had to get the boys to school and get to my 9:15 meeting. The good news is I was able to separate that event and have a great meeting. I got some good feedback and the rest of my group did as well.

The bad news is that even with lots of calls and prayers, I was not able to solve my babysitting crisis. So I did the next best thing, I put David down for a nap and turned it into a phone meeting. The person I was meeting with did not appreciate the change and was polite at the meeting, but it was clear that this was not a good thing.

The truth is this is what I face on a regular basis. What do I do? I don't have answers, just more questions. For now I am trying to maintain my focus and remember that my son is safe upstairs sleeping and I had the meeting, albeit not under the best of circumstances. So tomorrow is another day. I hope tomorrow goes better.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Meet An Every Day Hero - A Streetsmart Mom

If you could find the term Streetsmart Mom in the dictionary, you would find a picture of my friend Becca there. We have become friendly over the last year as our sons are in Kindergarten together. The boys just love each other and play together beautifully. I had the opportunity to hear a little bit about Becca and her “story” and was amazed at her strength, courage, grace and sense of humor.

While our boys had a play date, we actually had a great conversation. They played so well together, we were able to finish many sentences. Becca has three boys; they are five, four and one. The 5-year old has Epilepsy with some complications. He is the sweetest boy. Due to the complications, he struggles in school. Her 4-year old was just diagnosed with Asper Autism. She believed something happened at birth, which caused some developmental delays, and then it became apparent to her that it was more serious than that. The youngest is doing great.

What makes Becca so special, if dealing with the above was not enough, is that she has been an advocate and the force behind having her boys taken care of. She spends countless hours reading and researching all the possibilities, the treatment options and what opportunities she has to help her boys have a successful life. She was the one who insisted that her son be tested for Autism. She recently quit the job she loved to be available for the boys. Their education will be a full time job and this is clearly the most important thing to Becca. She spends her days taking her boys to doctors and various therapies to help them adjust. Moreover, as they continue in school, she will be with them the whole way making sure they get whatever they need.

On days I feel down and wonder how can I go on, I think of Becca and know I can. She does everyday, under much greater pressure. Her gift to the world is unconditional love and a capacity to give like I have never seen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

When is the last day of School???

As the school year comes to a close I take time to pause. Then panic sets in. What are we going to do with the summer? As my mind races with options and I try to problem solve, I realize that the summer is going to come and go very fast. And when it is done, Thomas will be in First Grade. Wow, when did that happen?

I am not in a rush to get through summer. I want to savor it. I want to enjoy these precious moments. Yes, it means slowing down a little, and being creative with my work schedule, but in then end it will all work out.

My memories of summer include trips with my family to cool places, usually historic in nature where we learned things. My dad was a college professor so we were always in a learning mode. But mostly I remember it was not a rushed time. We played, we rested and we spent time with our family.

I hope to give my kids great memories for this summer and the summers to come.

Friday, May 13, 2005

If I had to do it over again . . .

I would do exactly the same thing. Well, maybe not exactly, but I cannot imagine not being where I am right now. I believe that today is a product of all of my yesterdays. Without the yesterdays, today would not have been, and I love today! Should I say, who is on first at this point.

What I can do is try not to repeat the mistakes of yesterday. I do have regrets, and I know I am not the same person I was, so I will not regret the same things. Now I look for wisdom to assure the minimum of regrets in the future.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Is it morning already?

I guess you can tell I am tired. I had a busy day yesterday. I had my usually sales training, then I made some sales calls. I picked up David and brought him home for his well needed nap. After getting my son down for a nap, I left him in the capable hands of my sister-in-law and headed off to two more meetings. Then it was time for picking up number two and home to make dinner. I was running a little late so I didn't have time to eat because I head to my Toastmaster's meeting. It was a great meeting. I won two ribbons (best Table Topics and best Evaluator) and I was elected President of the club.

The part that was exhausting wasn't all of that, I was actually energized by that. What exhausted me was the fact that my husband did not come home till 2:30 in the morning from a meeting. I am normally not a worrier, but last night as the clock ticked away and I still did not hear him come in, I found myself concerned. I felt relief when he walked in the door (I heard his car before he walked in). He was really excited about his meeting so I did not have the heart to be angry with him. But this morning I am feeling a little miffed. I know he's tired and driving and I know I am exhausted.

So what's the point of all of this, really none. But I will work on not worrying so much and maybe come up with a plan in the future that Jim will leave his cell phone on when he is going to be out late so I can reach him. For me the lesson learned is that a little planning and communication in advance will go a long way to a good nights sleep.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Here's Tammy! She even looks calming. I am grateful to her for her patience as I am a slow learner and need time to work through all this stuff. Posted by Hello

De-Clutter Your Outside and Free-up Your Inside

I know this is probably contrary to what people say, but I find it works for me. I realize the clutter is a sign of the clutter in yourself. But sometimes you have to start on the outside to be able to face the inside. So my mission has been to de-clutter and purge so that I can free up some space to work and transform my personal space into a place where I can be creative. So far I have 7 bags (big bags) of stuff and lots of other stuff (mostly baby things). Yes my boys are not longer babies so it is time to let go. I am not having more and those things are not my boys they are things. I have pictures for the memories. (I am talking to myself.)

In order to facilitate a smooth transition in this endeavor I have enlisted the help of a trusted advisor, my professional organizer. Tammy Burke with Organize It All has been instrumental in helping me break down these overwhelming tasks into small tasks that are manageable. I will be meeting her next week and I will have a van full of stuff that she will itemize. She will give the items back to me to give to the organization of my choice and also provide me with a spread sheet that I can utilize with my taxes. Yippee, I will have a well needed tax write off and it will save the time of haggling at a yard sale of the precious things my boys owned. I will also have the pleasure of knowing someone who needs these things will get them. It is win-win-win.

That is Streetsmart at its best.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Stop and Smell the Flowers

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.” Dale Carnegie

It is so true. As Mother's Day approaches tomorrow, I am reminded of my little roses, Thomas and David and my big rose Jim. Sometimes I get caught up in the grind of what needs to get done, when can I get it done and am I doing it well enough. Sometimes I feel like I am missing something. I worry that I am focusing my energy on the wrong things. Zig Ziglar calls it being cooked in a squat.

So on Mother's Day I will try to enjoy the here and now and not focus on anything else but the blossoms right in my own home.

Friday, May 06, 2005

A Day in the Life of a Mompreneur

This is a typical day for me and my family.

I woke up at 5:30 to make arepas (special bread from Colombia) for a presentation at my son's school. Then I went to his school and did a presentation on bread making because they are studying bread. Next it was off to my home office to make phone calls and customer research. After which I headed to a lunch appointment with a friend/business associate to discuss a new product line and catch up on life. Then we headed to her office to see the developments on her new office location. Along the way I picked up David and brought him home for his afternoon nap (while he still takes them) and then I made calls, handled emails and other business. Once David woke up it was off to get Tom. We came home and had a quick snack, got a bath and made dinner so Tom could head off to Karate with his Dad. Then it was David and Mommy time. Last but not least it is bed time for David and I am off to my evening routine of preparing for the next day.

Is anyone tired reading this, I am just writing it. That is a typical day for me. The truth is that I love it! Even though I tend to be exhausted when my head hits the pillow, I know I have had a great, rewarding and full day filled with love, family and work. I realized that I am living what I have always wanted and didn't even know it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Mompreneurs Rock

According to an article in Business Week Online, America will never be the same.

"Mompreneurs are a huge force in this evolution. With their sheer numbers, they're running businesses on eBay and firing up the economy. Along the way, they're radically changing the way America works."

I am living proof of that and loving every minute of it. This article clearly demonstrates the saying necessity is the mother of invention. Let's face it, mothers are always creating new says to get things done and to create a world that works for them. It means starting businesses or creating a work schedule that is flexible and family friendly. Thank goodness we live in a place where we can be what we need to be and be respected and rewarded for it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

And now for something completely different

Today I had on my business hat and it was awesome. I feel so energized when I can be in my environment, selling and serving my clients. I also got to help a mom out who helps me and watched her kids for an hour. It was overall a great day, and I look forward to another good one tomorrow.

It is nice to be able to switch gears and wear many hats and not feel completely crazy.

She called!!!!

Well at last she called. I wasn't looking for a pound of flesh, just a conversation. I guess for me it was about closure on a potentially unpleasant situation. When it was all said and done, it all worked out. She apologized for the inconvenience and said she did her best to reach me. And when it get's right down to it, it does not matter, it's over and they are closed.

Monday, May 02, 2005

So now what?

Well I have left two messages on two different days and still no call back from the corporate owner of the now defunct Tumble Town. Interesting. Well I am going to wait one more day and then it is on to Plan B. Oh I mean BBB.

In the meantime, I have had a great day with David, planned my week for work and started planning next week. All in all, life is good. The best part of this all is that a parent emailed me to say it was a great party and thanked me for staying so calm under such a stressful situation.

It pays to be streetsmart and have lots of great friends and family.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

B – Day – “A Day that will Live in Infamy”

No, I am not talking about World War II, I am talking about David’s Birthday Party. First, let me say that I was thrilled there were going to be 12 kids at the party. It is hard to get everyone’s schedule together when everyone is so busy. That in itself was a feat. Then I reserved our favorite spot, a place in the Mall called Tumble Town with rubber walls and padded floors. What more could 12 3 to 6 year olds want. So imagine my surprise when I show up with cake and decorations in tow and my small entourage to find the party venue closed, permanently. Did I say it was 15 minutes before the party? What is a mother to do? What else, get on the cell phone and do some problem solving. With the support of my family and other resourceful parents, I was able to pull of a terrific party at Chuck E. Cheese. When all was said and done, the party went beautifully, the kids had a great time, all the parents were supportive and helpful to make this a great event and no children were lost in the shuffle. In addition, an added feature was that I ended up saving money on the deal.

So what has the Streetsmart Mom learned? Well, I must admit I am still reeling from this experience, but I believe I have learned a few things.

  • I have great friends and family who supported me and helped me stay calm under what could have been an extremely stressful situation.
  • People are willing to help when you ask.
  • I have the capacity to regroup and problem solve.
  • I am already working on the follow-up for the place, which does not exist any more. Why? Because I need to understand how this happened so this will not happen to someone else.

The best part is the kids had a great day and that’s all that matters.

Friday, April 29, 2005

T-1 "The Birthday Party"

Well I am about to sign off for the day, so I thought I would do a quick blog. Tomorrow is David's 3rd Birthday Party. Big time. We are having it at Tumble Town, a place where the kids (10 ranging from 3 to 5) can run, jump and get really loud. The best part is they clean up and we go home. It's worth a few extra bucks and the kids enjoy it so much.

So I am off to spend the day cleaning, and then some more cleaning before all the relatives invade for the party. I love this stuff and I know the boys do too.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

When all else fails, Blog

Well I hit the wall today. I am tired. I just realized that this was the first day in about three weeks, may more, that I had no appointments when I was kid free. I dropped the boys off to school and came home expecting to get many things done, after all my To Do List had turned into a To Do Novel. So what do you think happened? Nothing, that's right. I think I just needed to shut down for a moment or so and just be.

I am feeling frustrated, angry and overwhelmed that I cannot get it all done. I am having one of those days. So being the doer that I am, I decided to get at least one thing done, so I am blogging here and I have blogged at my sales site. Then I went to Target (I love that store) and did my essential shopping and next I indulged in some Chinese Food for lunch. What do I call all of this? Extreme Self-Care! I read about it in Life Makeover. Sounds silly but it worked.

I went to get David, who was asleep before we left the school. Brought him home for nap and here I am ready to face my day. Did I mention I stopped at Starbucks for a coffee! Well at least I still have a few more hours to chip away at my To Do List. Bottoms Up!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I'm Unemployable . . . And Now I Know Why

According to Judith Warner author of "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" women are forced to make choices that are substandard.
". . . [T]he structures of our society as they currently exist do not allow mothers to make meaningful choices," Warner wrote. "Too many [mothers] are forced to abdicate the dreams of a lifetime because the demands of the workplace are incompatible with family life. Others, in the quest to support their families, must 'choose' to consign their children to seriously substandard care. Others must abdicate their dreams of homemaking because it is simply too costly."

When I had my children I was already a business owner and choose to downsize the business and move it home to enjoy my boys. When I was ready to start gearing up again, I realized very quickly I could not do what I did before because my life had become very unpredictable. In fact, if I had a regular "job" this winter I would have been fired because of all of the illness my family had experienced. I have felt blessed to be an entrepreneur who can make my schedule work within the confines of my life.

It's not easy, but I must say it beats parking the kids at a center and having an hour during the day to learn what my boys are about. I just have to remind myself, all the time, they are only young for a short while and then I can keep my perspective.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Report Cards Are In and We're Doing Just Fine?

I haven't had time to digest everything in the report, but according to ClubMom the "State of Mom" things are looking good for moms whether they work at home or outside the home. Check it out for yourself.

  • Mom's are confident in their childrearing abilities (Go girl)
  • They don't feel pressure to live up to society driven versions of a "Perfect Mom" (Amen)
  • Would like more help from their spouses (Who wouldn't)
  • Husband are good role models for their children (I second that emotion)

There's tons of information in this report and it is certainly worth reading. So go check it out. I find what works for me is having a balance of family, friends and work. Lots of play, lots of work and lots of rest. That doesn't mean it happens, but I know it works.

As Mother's Day approaches, it's a good time to do a personal pulse and see how things are going and if you are ok, great! And if you need a little more, now is the time to start asking.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

When I grow up I will . . .

Here I am at 41 and I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I want to help people achieve their goals. It suddenly occurred to me that I am living my dream.

I was given a book called the Dreamgiver, which I read in two days. That's fast for me. The main theme of the book is that we are all born with a purpose and that we spend our whole lives trying to find out what the dream is. Most of us don't know that we are seeking this purpose. Once we realize it and we figure out what the purpose is, we spend the rest of our time stretching out of our comfort zone and trying to attain that dream. The only problem is that when we do this, we shake things up with the people we love. So the book clearly, through a parable/story, shares the challenges we face as we change and how it affects the world around us. Powerful!!!!

What is your dream? Are you living your dream? Who are the Giants in your life? Are you in the desert, parched and searching? Are there dream stealers in your life? All questions that are answered in this book. Get the book and live your dream.

Friday, April 22, 2005

An Attitude of Gratitude

I was just talking to fellow mom who had three boys (6, 4 & 1). She asked me if I had any ideas on how to teach an attitude of gratitude to her boys. She had just had a morning of whining and crying over not getting his way. She was beginning to be upset with his lack of appreciation for the things he has and the focus on what he wanted. At the moment I could not think of a thing. I too had experience similar attitudes. Was it just an age thing or were we not raising grateful children? It really made me think.

Then I called her back to check in and to offer the only thought that came to mind. What if you took the boys to a shelter or food bank and show them what it means to be without. We talked about various local possibilities and both felt encouraged. I feel committed to teaching the boys not only how fortunate they are but also how we need to serve others. I hope to make this a learning lesson over the summer.

It is great to be able to share with other moms and gain strength.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Market and Share

There was a time I would cringe when someone else would start a business like mine and I'd believe that was it, I am done. Then through time, maturity and some training, I realized that there is enough out there for everyone as long as we behave in our businesses. Once I got that, business became fun. Now I don't worry so much about market share but sharing my marketing and sales knowledge. It' s interesting what happens when you release that tension and you suddenly become open to the possibilities. The flood gates open up and truly everyone is provided for according to their effort.

I love to share and in turn, I have been well taken care of over the years.

Friday, April 15, 2005

If you don't like the picture, Reframe it!!!!

Yesterday I had a plan. It made sense and I had all the details worked out in my mind. Then reality set in. Of course my plan was not what happened. At first I was angry and discouraged. Then within minutes or maybe a few hours, I was able to get some perspective. What did I do to turn what seemed like a hopeless situation into a great thing? I reframed it.

I stepped back, looked at the situation with a new pair of frames on. Then with my new found wisdom I rewrote the plan. Now I am back on track and still on the same path. This worked for several reasons:
  • I had a goal that was specific and measurable
  • I wrote a plan and worked toward implementation
  • Then when things did not go according to plan, I reviewed it and came up with a new strategy
  • I kept my focus on the goal, not the plan
I have learned that even in small decisions, if you keep you eye on the goal, it will all come together. You must be open to change, flexible and steadfast.

Everybody is Kung Fu Fighting

What do you do with a boy who is full of life, energy and instinctively turns everything into a weapon? You give them Karate Lessons? Well, our thought is if he's going to be pretending to do karate with his friends, he should be schooled in the real thing. Karate will not just teach him technique but philosophy. And guess what, my son loves it and he's pretty good at it for a 5 year old.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Support is a good thing!!!

Today was a rough day. My heart was sad and I had that feeling like I wanted to get out of my skin. So what did I do? What any red blooded women would do, called a friend. I asked her if I could come over and just be with her. She was great!!! I was able to just be, I was fed and my son David took a nap. It turned my day around.

What started as a dramatic day and could have digressed into a pity party became a victory for me. What am I celebrating? I know how to take care of myself, how to ask for help and when to sit in my stuff. The good news is that I don't have to sit in it as long as I used to and I know when to reach out.

I guess that is another trait of a Streetsmart Mom.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Monday morning blues

It's Monday and David has the infamous stomach virus. It is so disheartening when the boys are sick. And, I must say this kind of sickness I can do without.

On top of that, I experienced poor customer service at our local computer store. After they told us we could return an item if it didn't work, I tried. Guess what, they did not have the cash. I dragged my poor sick son out to get this handled quickly so there would be no questions, and they tell me to come back this evening, or they could mail me a check from corporate. What's up with that???? We paid cash and of course we want cash back. Let's just say I am not happy. It's time to send in the big guns.

Well, we are home and resting, and I've cleaned David up again. So I guess we will just move on.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Something has to give . . . I guess it was my blog

It has been a week since I have blogged. I have tried to do this for days, quite frankly I have been so busy or so tired I just could not do it. So today, I am making time to catch up. What have I been up to?

  • Closed two sales in my business;
  • Planned and implemented a luncheon event for my children's school and helped out with book fair;
  • Worked at church nursery, twice;
  • Went to meetings/trainings;
  • Participated on another event planning committee;
  • Helped my sister with a major personal event;
  • Met with my mastermind group; and
  • General family activities and home activities.
So you can see it has been a busy week. I did fit some sleep in there. Oh yeah, we turned the clocks back and we are all off schedule. I am enjoying the added sunshine.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Keep It Simple

I know there are times when I just don't get it and then there is today. It suddenly came to me. It's all about slow, incremental growth by utilizing consistent behavior. No matter how little, doing it consistently.

So instead of lamenting about my schedule and the little time I have to be working on my business, I am working on it when I can. Basically I am picking myself up from my boot straps and doing what I said I would do.

I am also rejoicing and honoring the mom that I am the other time. As I sit here typing my 3 year old is trying to fall asleep and I am waiting to get my 5 year old. I cannot wait to get him and bring him home so we can pop some popcorn and watch a movie together. What a great feeling.

This is a major step. I am able to live in compartments that can overflow but don't have to. The best part is that I am content where I am.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Oh the sounds of silence . . .

Yes, the kids are back in school. I do miss them, and I must say that I am enjoying these moments of quite and inspiration. I am catching up on emails, making follow-up calls, setting my schedule for the next month and enjoying a "hot" cup of coffee. Yes, I said hot.

I know when I get my boys I will be happy to see them, yet I can say without guilt that it is good to have this time. They grow in their independence and they learn while I recharge and plug into the world again.

Thank you God for a moment of clarity and the joys you bring.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Blogged Down Without Inspiration

It's Friday, Good Friday, and for some reason I don't feel inspired. However, I have been trained to behave whether I feel like it or not, so here I am writing.

Today we have a play date and we are going bowling. I really am looking forward to that. I love spending time with other moms, specially if they are moms like me, streetsmart. Becka is that. Her boys are just wonderful, so all in all, it will be a great day.

I am looking forward to Easter, celebrating the joy of the season, for He is Risen In Deed. I am mostly looking foward to enjoying time with my family. The holidays are a great time. Why can't we capture that feeling all year long. I guess it wouldn't be special then.

Until Monday, unless inspiration takes over before then.