Millennium Mom

Monday, March 30, 2009

MM Blog 3/30 A Birthday in a Fog

Finally, five days later and the fog has lifted :)
As you know I was feeling under the weather last week. In fact, I don't think I have felt that bad since I had a breast infection with Sarah. I stayed on Thursday but should have stayed home Friday as well. My day didn't start off that bad, but by noon I was attached to a tissue box, with a Rudolph nose and a daze around my mind. Of course all I wanted to do was go home, but that was impossible. Arnie and I commuted together that day, in Amber's car as she was bringing the kids to us that night. We had tickets to the Children's Theatre that night. I had won a couple of tickets as part of our Fine Arts Fund drive, so we decided to make it a family event and bought three more to Charlotte's Web.

So instead of going home early, the kids arrived at 5:30 and we walked in very chilly, drizzling rain to dinner. We went for the food court at the mall downtown, just to give the kids variety and try to waste more time in the mall as we had two hours to give. Of course the kids chose pasta (what else is new) and I was lucky to find tuna at Subway given it is Lent. We headed to TJ Maxx after we were done and I got a couple of really cheap pair of sunglasses to get me through the summer (not even $20 for 2, love that place).

The play was quite cute, but I was in total pain at that point. I had grabbed a roll of Charmin from one of the bathrooms at work and it was gone by the end of the play. I fell asleep in the car on the way home and just wanted to sleep forever. But Saturday was Claire's special day, her fifth birthday. I promised her I would take her to get her nails done in the morning before her t-ball practice at noon. I woke up feeling so ill I decided we had to find a "minute clinic" like place at one of the drug stores. After a few calls I found one not too far and we headed there at 9:30 when they opened. We were the first ones there which was great. The good news is I didn't have strep or anything bad, just a really bad cold. The nurse recommended the right combo of OTC medicine and off we went to the nail salon.

Both girls got their nails done before going to the grocery store to buy some ice cream, strawberries and other items for the party. We were home to unpack the groceries eat a quick lunch and made it to the field by noon. I volunteered to be assistant coach for Claire. I was hoping it would make her feel comfortable on the team. It is 9 boys and 3 girls, Claire and our neighbors Anne and Linda. The coach and boys are all great so it should be a terrific summer for her. We got home about 2pm, and I quickly changed Claire for her big surprise. I had a haircut and I had arranged for them to do her hair "fancy." She has poker straight hair so I thought it would be cute to have it curled or something. She got her pretty party dress on and off we went. She was a total darling sitting and talking to the stylist the entire time and looked beautiful.

When we returned home I just needed a nap so I hit the couch. Arnie was a trooper and asked me what had to be done for the party. He put the pad on the table, did some laundry and made a list of what to get at Sam's where the cake had to be picked up along with pizza. I took a nap while Arnie headed to Sam's. At 6:00 Arnie arrived home and we did all the last minute preparations for people to arrive at 6:30. The party went off just fine. Lots of basketball watching for the dads, chat for the moms and playing for the kids (it is neighbor party). It didn't last too long so I was in bed by 10:30 and could sleep in.

Finally on Sunday I began to feel a little better but was glad that I could sleep in and know that noon mass was my first major task for the day. Because it was so cold Arnie cancelled Ben's baseball practice so we could be really lazy, which we all needed. I went back to work today with still a bit of a cough, but with an almost whole mind behind me, it felt good. I am hoping we are all through it, but many people in the office are still sick, so I have my fingers crossed, as only 5 days until vacation and it will be so much more fun if we are all healthy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

3/26 MM Blog: Feeling under the weather

Arnie and I stayed up late (for me) last night, watching Idol. We had Ben's hockey game, then headed to dinner at Panera, followed by the Ski shop. We got home at 9:15, put the kids in bed and settled in to watch Idol. When I laid down in bed my throat was really killing me. Arnie got me two Tylenol PM and I settled in. The alarm went off this morning and I don't even remember shutting it off. I woke up at 7:30 and decided immediately I would work from home in the morning, then head downtown for an afternoon meeting.

I stayed in bed while taking all my calls. My throat was still throbbing and a cough was settling in. I picked Ben up at the bus stop after noon, ate lunch and then decided there was no way I could go into work. I still felt horrible. I notified my team and laid down, two hours later I woke up just in time for my 3pm call.

I am still feeling awful tonight. I just took Tylenol PM again and put some Vicks vapor rub on my chest. There have been two illnesses working themselves through Cincinnati over the past is digestive (that is what Arnie had last week) and one is Respiratory. I am praying I just have a cold like Ben and Claire, and not an infection. As Arnie said tonight, the good news is hopefully we are all getting it out of our systems before we go on vacation in 9 days. And Claire is feeling better in time for her birthday on Saturday.

So I am sitting in bed now ready to go to sleep, hoping I will wake up feeling renewed tomorrow. We have tickets to see the Children's Theatre production of Charlotte's Web tomorrow night, then a fun filled Saturday for Claire's birthday. We don't do big kids parties, just pizza and cake with our neighbors. To make the day special for her we are going to get her nails done, and then the big surprise is when I go to get my haircut, Claire is going to have her hair done. She has poker straight hair so they are going to curl it, she will just die of happiness.

She also has her first t-ball practice in the middle of all that. Too bad it is before her party as my family got her "pink" equipment for it...a pink bat, pink gloves, pink helmet, pink bag and pink balls...who would have thought they even made pink sporting equipment. I can't wait to see the look on her face...just precious. Ok, off to bed...stay healthy if you are in Cincy or anywhere else where bugs are flying around.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MM Blog 3/24: Prepping for vacation

Hello everyone, and happy Tuesday. It was a gorgeous day in Cincinnati, mid-70s and sunny, and I actually got to go outside during it which was wonderful. I was at P&G's in-house "ideation" facility north of Cincinnati called "The Gym." Can't really say what I was ideating about, but the good part about the Gym is they want you to be creative and to be creative you have to have some fun along the way. So we all got to go outside into the parking lot and do a team building exercise (and better yet enjoy the weather).

Tonight was all about getting ready for our vacation. We leave in 11 days to go skiing in Whistler, Canada. We have gotten into a rhythm of going skiing one year, then to Florida with my parents the next, this is our skiing year. The last time we went only Ben and Claire were in ski school as Sarah was not yet three, this year she will join her older brother and sister. I am not a huge skier, and must say am even less excited this year after the Natasha Richardson accident. But I love the mountains and the scenery. I also think it is really important to expose my children early, as most of my fear comes from the fact that I did not ski until I was in college and not very often since.

At dinner we realized we really needed to inventory our equipment before we left. Then we also realized we had zero free time this weekend to go shopping for what we need (it's Claire's birthday and the start of little league practice so a big more hectic than usual), and we leave the next weekend. So we decided it would be best to go to the store after Ben's hockey game tomorrow night. We would be out anyway and not too far from the store, which meant we had to inventory tonight. In the spirit of giving kudos to my book and my tips, it really wasn't that hard to do, because I know where everything is.

First I hit the locker room to grab winter coats, hats and gloves and brought them upstairs. Then I went to our skiing trunk, where we keep all the equipment. Arnie had a pad and we wrote down what we a pair of goggles for Sarah, long underwear for Ben as he outgrew his last pair (or should I say each pair was handed down), so warm socks and that was about it. I guess we could have gone as far as packing, but we wanted to call our niece and wish her a happy birthday as we would not be home tomorrow on her actual birthday. For now it is in a pile in our office and I will find a large duffel to pack it in tomorrow.

I am hoping to be completely packed by the end of the weekend. The good news about skiing for spring break is you don't use the same clothes that we are using now in Cincinnati, so no excuse to not pack early. I truly believe the best way to start your vacation off on the right foot, is to pack in advance so you don't have a lot of stress the day of your departure. Ciao.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

MM Blog 3/19: March Madness

A fitting title for today's blog. We are just over half-way through the month and it has been mad. The weather here in Cincinnati has fluctuated back and forth from 70 degrees back down to winter weather in the 30's. It seems to be happening on a weekly basis. I am not complaining, because 70 degrees in March is a blessing, but boy has it been hard to lay out the kids clothes in advance. Every time I want to put away my knee high boots, and take out the peep toe heels, the weather seems to turn the other way.

It is all March Madness because the NCAA tournament started...yippie. Back when I was in shape I played a lot of basketball. I somehow managed to keep up playing in leagues until I had my third. We had moved back from Europe and I quickly got back onto a team I missed it so much. I was so horrible. Everything was off, my speed, my shot, my ball handling, you name it. It was quite frustrating. I figured it was just the few years layoff from playing. About half-way through the league I found out I was pregnant. That explained why I was so tired and a bit off. Then the morning sickness kicked in, which was just lovely...or should I say maddening. Now my love of basketball takes place in my driveway and on my couch, like right now when I am sitting watching the tournament. I love that my kids watch it with Arnie and I, and we can share our love and passion with them.

March has also brought madness at work. I have been dealing with an "issue" over the last two weeks. One of those 'I thought we had a decision up through the President, but someone else doesn't think so, so lots of swirl'...I even got a note from another senior leader that "they have failed me as leaders"...well said I guess. It will hopefully finally be solved in a meeting scheduled for Monday, until then I will continue to feel like a volcano about to erupt...not fun.

And then there are those other things in life than can just drive you Alexis Grace getting voting off of Idol last night...CRAZY, could not believe it. Or the AIG madness that is going on...or Natasha Richardson's death, finally a Hollywood couple that is normal and that happens. Maybe because I am a pop culture fanatic, and "maven" when it comes to being in the know, but things like that affect me...they just do, so the past week has been bad.

On top of all of this, my husband was sick this week. He is never sick, and woke up Tuesday morning at 5pm to violently throw up and it continues for 12 hours, he lost 5 pounds in a day, it was ugly. Thankfully it was only 24 hour thing, that fit well into our March Madness theme.

Stay healthy, enjoy the blooming trees (yeah, it has begun in Cincy) and your spring break if you school district has one.

Monday, March 16, 2009

MM Blog 3/16: A weekend away

Sorry all - it has been a while.
This time I have no excuse other than I was thinking of you all and wanted to blog this weekend, but my mom doesn't know the key code/password to her wireless network, and I was visiting home (without a cable with me).

So this was my weekend in NY/NJ. I had to go to Jersey for a book commitment. The winner of the Home Made Simple sweepstakes lives in NJ so I was going to do a live consult with her. I flew out Friday afternoon, checked into my hotel and then headed to the city to see my college roommate Kate and bridesmaid Margaret. It was so awesome to sit and have dinner and chat with them. It is so hard to keep up with friends other than chit-chat on facebook, which is just not the same. A three hour meal was fantastic and great.

Saturday I drove down to meet the HMS winner at her home. It was great to try to help someone with my tips and put them to work. After going through her home we went to Target to get some organizational items to help her get even more organized than she is. I am hoping they find the tips helpful and as they expand their family they come even more handy.

After finishing up I drove the 90 minutes north to my parents. The kids were so upset with me that I got to see their grandparents and cousins and they didn't. I tried to explain that I would only see them for eight hours but that didn't help. Thankfully my in-laws were coming down so that would at least be a distraction from me being away. I arrived at my parents around 1pm. My dad just had knee replacement surgery so it was great to see him and help out a bit.

I am so lucky when I go home in that my entire family is in my hometown. My brother and his girlfriend came over to chat for a bit (they live across the street from my parents). I was able to walk the 1.5 blocks to see my grandmother and spend an hour with her. That night I went to my nieces cheerleading competition for their parochial school lead. The both came in first place and did fantastic. While there I saw three of my dad's four siblings, my sister's entire family, my neighbor I grew up with and more. All in eight hours. I love it, because it makes life easy for the few times a year I am there. I know it overwhelms my family at times, having everyone so close has a lot of obligations, etc but for me who is not there, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday morning I left at 8:30 to drive back to the airport. It was a really quick trip but a fun-packed one and so worth it. I was back in Cincinnati at home by 2pm to relieve my in-laws (Arnie was at a coach's clinic for baseball) and get the house in order. We even made it to the Y to register for swimming again and to Target to get summer sneakers which were on sale.

Now back to reality and checking in, hopefully this week will be easier than last.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MM Blog 3/10 Workbook and American Idol

One of the most common "debates" among parenting experts is whether or not you should let your children watch TV, and if you allow it 'which shows on TV'. I guess now it has evolved to using the computer as well. We have never been in the camp of no TV. Barney, Elmo, Dora and now Hannah, Word Girl and others have been our friend. The kids are entertained and often learning great life lessons or knowledge.

Having said that we limit the amount of TV. Now that they are getting older we have a few "adult" shows that we watch as a family - namely American Idol and Survivor. The kids really look forward to the nights that these shows are on and talking about the contestants. We also watch a lot of sports together, routing for our favorite teams. Find the shows that you love and that are child appropriate and enjoy them as a family. Seeing the kids get up and dance to American Idol is so precious.

Importantly also have family nights were there is no TV. Be it game night, or for us "workbook" night, take the time to invest in family bonding. Last night we all sat at the kitchen table for an hour and a half and did workbooks, learning math, how to write letters, work through mazes, recognize sounds and more. It was great to see their minds act like sponges and how proud they were. I find the girls have such an advantage in being 2nd and 3rd in birth order because they are exposed to learning that we would never have thought of doing with Ben.

Utilize the great tools that exist for non-elementary ed parents...we love workbooks (get them at Sam's club), games online at nickjr or, and great lessons from Ben's kindergarten around sorting, patterning and math. Whether you are walking up the stairs and counting, having the kids measure ingredients and so on, find the teaching moments and have fun with it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

MM Blog 3/8 - Extroverted or Intraverted?

I have always been fascinated by many of the trainings we have at P&G. In the twelve years I have been there I have done Myers-Briggs, Birkman, Herman-Meier and Strengths Finder a couple of times each (though I likely spelled them wrong). They essentially all tell you different things about your personality, mind or style and how it is similar or different to others.

Given my husband works for the same company, he has been through them all well, so it is even more fun to understand how we are similar or different. I know we have both done Herman-Meier and Myers-Briggs. On Herman Meier which essentially tells you if you are left brained or right brained, we are very similar...very left brain dominant (green-blue on their scale) which means we are linear or sequential thinkers, rely on data for decisions vs. judgement, etc. Essentially we are not "fuzzy" but a bit more black-and-white in how we think.

On Myers-Briggs we are identical on three of the four attributes, but differ on one important one. I am an extrovert and he is an introvert. I wish I was more of an expert on the study and what it means, as at times I am totally confused. But what is true about the model and certainly shows it for us is "where do you get energy from?" I am an extrovert because I love to be around people. I was be miserable working in a lab setting by myself and love to host parties to be around people. Arnie would rather be on his bike riding for hours on end, or relaxing on the couch on a Friday night.

Then it gets funny for me and where I start to misunderstand. The odd thing is once we get to the party (which I wanted to go to as an extrovert and Arnie didn't), I am totally happy talking to one person the entire time, and someone I know. On the other hand, my introvert husband turns into the mayor and strikes a conversation with the majority of people there. I often leave first as well.

Thankfully we compliment each other well. This weekend we hosted two events at our house. On Friday night we had a baby shower for two women I work with, about 50-60 people. Arnie was his normal self talking to everyone, this allows me to be a good host making sure the food is out, people have drinks, etc. Tonight we through an impromptu dinner. We have lots of beer left over and the Duke (my husbands alma mater) - NC game was on at 4pm. So we called our neighbor friends and invited them over for dinner. Everyone brought a side dish for dessert and we grilled flank steak and chicken. Both events went wonderful, I think even the introvert enjoyed himself (even with a tornado warning during our entire dinner tonight).

I recommend some of these tools as they tell you a lot about yourself and help explain some of your pet-peeves, hot buttons, odd behaviors and and so on. Always take them with a grain of salt and don't over-analyze, as that too can drive you a bit crazy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

MM Blog 3/5: Friction at work and a parent teacher conference

Did you ever have one of those days where you felt like you were on a roller coaster. Some parts of it were great and fun, and others were terrifying and you couldn't' wait for them to be over...that sums up my Thursday.

Today was a really, really long day at work. One of the core team I work with is in our busy season, which means lots of stressful meetings. For a while now we have have not been as cohesive as we once were. The issues is magnified, with the fact that the two strongest personalities on the team (me and another person) used to get a long better than we are. So while other stuff went on and we managed through it, I am no longer always aligned and sharing the same POV as this person, so the team is divided.

After a rough email chain this morning I decided to meet with a couple of the team members, just to hear their perspective. I didn't think I was out of line in the last meeting, but your own perspective is not always correct, so I always like to check with others. It was great to get their perspective and talk as one voice in how we can try to improve things. At P&G we highly value giving feedback, so we brainstormed about the best way to do that. I felt a bit better when I left.

The rest of my day continued the roller coaster ride, a few great meetings and a tough core team meeting, with another team member battling out with the person I am struggling with. I am hoping our feedback session next week will go well, as I am not sure I can handle much more.

On the uber positive side we had our 2nd parent teacher conference with Ben's K teacher tonight. We got his report card last night, and reviewed it so we knew he was doing really well, but is it always nice to hear the experts perspective. It was a great 20 minute session and we could not have been prouder of Ben. We bought him three of his wish list books from the book fair as a "job well done" gift.

American Idol was on tonight, so we did our normal routine of watching it with the girls. Ben is really into sports right now, so he normally goes upstairs to watch basketball on ESPN, its kind of cute. Of course they wimped out and made it 13, I just knew they would keep Anoop. I was just so happy Megan and Matt made it as I think they deserved it.

Tomorrow night we are hosting a big work baby shower here so we set up tonight. I just love my husband, as he was is more worried" then I am. We got all the tables set up, pulled the catering/entertaining equipment out and are all set. I am going to come home at 4pm to start cooking and it should be a great night of fun and good cheer.

happy friday to you to watch Grey's Anatomy

Sunday, March 1, 2009

MM Blog 3/1: Sharing and Hand me Downs

Children teach you many things each day, more than you will ever imagine. Their unconditional love, raw emotions, and pace of development are awe inspiring and you have to catch your breath every now and then to soak it all in.

Having children also makes you aware of all the things you need when you have children. From maternity clothes when you are pregnant and expecting the baby, to the "tools" and "gadgets" for the baby, books and toys, certain furniture and more. It is truly amazing the amount of money you spend in those 3-5 years.

As most of you know, I was in Europe when we had Ben, and the cultural "necessities" for babies were significantly less than in the US. There were not bottle sanitizers, wipe warmers, video cameras (though maybe that was just a sign of the times) and so on. There also wasn't any friends to get hand me downs from. Shipping maternity clothes to Belgium didn't make a whole lot of sense.

So when I returned from Europe, and had my next two kids in quick succession to Ben, I knew I wanted to share what we had. It seemed so wasteful that my maternity clothes were packed away somewhere. They had been put to good use, but in the grand scheme of things had been worn less than 2 years. Heck, I have sweaters from high school still and that is 20 years ago. I knew these clothes had more life to them, particularly the nicer ones that only got worn a handful of times. Any good friend that was pregnant I would immediately ask if they needed clothes. I didn't really care if I got them back, I just wanted them to be put to good use. From Suzanne, to my sister, my cousins wife, Elika and Kristin. Each time they got lent out, it was a heartfelt moment knowing the joy they were going through.

The same is true for the baby "gear" all know it...the bouncy seat, swing, Bjorn, pumpkin seat, stroller, boppy pillow, baby tub, changing table, cradle, high chair, monitors and so on. You use it for about a year and then it goes in the basement. Thankfully for us by the time one child was done with it, it was only about 6 months until the next one was in it, but then what? It was such a waste just sitting in our basement. So we did the same thing again. First, the gentleman who worked from Arnie's wife was pregnant. They had just moved form Eastern Europe, knew no one and could use some help. We brought everything up and they took what they needed. With no family and hence no shower, it was a little bit like a shower for her. They were so thankful, it brought tears to my eyes. Next was Elika who worked for me and now Kristin who I work with.

At this point we really don't want it back. We tell people to donate it when they are done. We know we are not having any more children (I couldn't have said that even a year ago) so it makes sense that they pass it along to someone they know who could use it.

Now I am doing the same with the clothes from the kids. I held on to them for a while, not knowing what the genders of our children were. Would I need boy or girl clothes. Once I knew we were done, it was perfect timing as my sister had just had a boy. I began to send bags of clothes to NY with my parents when they came. Anything she didn't want would go to my cousins wife who had a boy 9 months after my sister. Again, the message was "please don't send it back."

My girl clothes are a bit more worn, as I have two girls, but I am now giving them to people at work if they want them. Anything not taken goes to women's shelters. The same with our toys. We donate them all to crisis centers and places that have children. I try to clean them as good as I can and share them with others in need. This makes my husband very happy whenever I have a box ready to go.

I encourage you all to pass along our stuff to others. Yes, you could sell it on EBay, but I would much rather give it to others. The money is not worth all the thanks and gratitude you get and knowing you helped someone else.