Millennium Mom

Saturday, February 27, 2010

2/27 Blog: We actually went to the mall!

Here in Cincinnati we have a very nice mall called Kenwood Towne Center. It is the upscale mall...Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, William Sonoma Home, JCrew, Banana and the other usual stuff. Prior to moving to Europe 10 years ago it was my hang-out, I did most of my shopping there. Since returning from Europe almost 7 years ago I don't frequent it very much.

There is something about young kids and malls that don't go together. Sure, when I was on maternity leave I would go with the baby. That was easy enough to navigate, and it was often during a weekday afternoon, so no crowds. But a Saturday, with three kids in way.

Well today we did it. We left our house at 10 this morning for Ben's hockey game. When we left we thought the other semi-final game was after ours. With this in mind (and knowing Ben would want to watch it), and the fact that we had to be downtown for the Children's Theatre at 5, we planned on being out all day.

Then we got to the arena and realized the game was before ours. So we played our game at 10:40 (we lost, bummer, end of the Ice Dragons season, 1-0) and were leaving the arena at noon. I guess we could have gone home then, but we needed to eat anyway and decided to stick with our plan. We headed up north a bit to go to Barnes and Noble. The kids had Christmas gift certificates to spend so that would kill some time. After the book store we headed to Johnny Rockets for lunch...but we were done at what.

Arnie wanted to go home. I knew if we took the kids home they would never want to leave, they would start playing with friends and throw a fit. So I pushed to go to the mall. I myself couldn't believe this, but I too had some old gift certificates that we could use because we never get up there. So off we went. First Williams Sonoma (thanks Aunt Sue...xmas 2 years ago gift), and the kids behaved. Next was Sephora...the girls LOVED it...and even got some nail polish out of it (Purple and bright Blue...what a sight). Then we headed to get a treat for everyone because they were so good.

While eating our ice cream Ben asked if he could look in Gap kids. Next thing I know he is coming out and asking me to go in, he found something he liked. For me who shops at Target it was total sticker shock...I just don't spend that much on clothes. I ended up letting each one of hem pick something from the sale rack. Little did I know I had a Gap gift certificate too so that was free as well.

I don't know when we will head there again, as each of the kids (in particular Claire, my girly girl) had a lot of the "I wants" going on...but it was a nice afternoon. Our long, but great day ended with "Jack and the Beanstalk" at the Children's Theatre which was "awesome" according to the kids. Now we are home relaxing...watching Curling on TV. Crazy as it sounds we have actually played curling before in Montreal and loved it...there is a ton of strategy and it is not easy. Back to it we go.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2/24 Blog: Temptations of a Busy mom

For those not in Cincy, today’s blog is the segment I gave on this mornings Fox 19 segment, enjoy.

This week we have all heard a ton about temptations. For most of us it was in Tiger Wood’s speech on Friday, and how he gave in to his cravings. For many Catholics we heard it in Sunday’s gospel about how the Devil tempted Jesus in the dessert. All of this caused me to reflect on what might be the temptations that working or busy moms might be experiencing and what advice could I give to help them not give into the temptations.

Temptation 1: Always putting the kids before yourself and your husband. This one comes with being a “mom” for most of us, just something that happens when we see his or her eyes for the first time. We melt, they own our heart and this often causes us to put them first. What we all need to remember is we can not properly care for children if we don’t care for ourselves. Your personal health and well-being is important if you want to be able to care for your children. We have all been sick and no how miserable life becomes, try to avoid that. Additionally, the best thing you can do for your children is to give them a healthy home filled with love. To do this you need a healthy relationship with your spouse or partner.

Temptation 2: Feeling the need to give your kids everything. Blame it on marketers like me, toy companies or Disney, but kids today have more than ever before. I am as guilty of this as anyone. Often we feel kids need more because they say “I’m bored” so we rush to get the latest and greatest toy or video game. A friend once told me that she rotates the toys so they never get bored. She simply would take a big box and take some toys away and put them in a closet. Then a few months later they would come out. It was like Christmas morning. Try this, or simply play the games with your kids so they enjoy them even more. Instead of setting up a play day with another child, make a family play date instead.

Temptation 3: To enroll your child in every activity Perhaps it is keeping up with the Jones’s syndrome or just society today, but most moms feel the need to put them child in every sport, art or lesson possible. Before you know it kids are booked every day of the week at least, sometimes with more than one activity on a day. This can lead to a lot of stress on the family. You’ll find yourself not only spending a lot of money on the activities themselves, which can cause stress, but also in eating out, the equipment, and more gas for all the pick-ups and drop offs. It can also lead you less family or personal time for you.

Temptation 4: To work a little harder or longer to get ahead. For many working moms we think, “If I just work a little harder, maybe that will get me the raise or promotion.” It is very easy to fall into this trap, heck we see our male counterparts doing it all the time. This is when it is important to think of your career as a long marathon versus a sprint. Try not to think about your career in terms of salary or title, but in terms of personal satisfaction and for what it provides you and your family. Set personal goals for each year, ones that lead you to feel fulfilled at work without putting too much stress on yourself. There will be a time when you can make your job a higher priority, but it is not when you have young children that are dependent on you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2/23 Blog: Hockey is taking over

This has been our first year of being an official hockey family. When we asked Ben on his 5th birthday what sport he wanted to play when he turned six he said ice hockey. Maybe it was because his dad is a Red Wings fan, maybe he heard another kid talking about it, but he chose hockey. With that response we signed him up for ice skating lessons for his birthday. He had a class once a week for about 6 months.

The next Fall when he turned six we put him in the Cincinnati Area Hockey Associations (CAHA) "learn to play"program. This was a clinic type program where the kids learned how to play, from stick handling, how to skate, stop (that one is important) and the rules of the game. Ben did this for the entire Winter season. When it ended, he still liked it.

So this Fall when he turned seven we signed him up for the Mite league. This is they youngest level in Hockey, 5-8 year olds by birth year, so I guess 20002, 2002 ad 2003 kids where in this level. He has loved it, playing official games, learning different positions and of course winning some games here and there. A few months into the season we got a call about a "select" team. Arnie and my first reaction was "no way" at this age, because we assumed it would be a traveling team and we aren't ready to give up every weekend. The coach promised it was all teams within 2 hours who we would play, so we let him try out and he made it.

Throughout the season it has been a game here or there for select, with the exception of two Sunday were the poor thing had 3 games. With select because teams are traveling into town they often do double headers, that along with a normal CAHA game means a long day. But again, he loves it....I am tired watching him and he wants to skate more. So for most of the season our life has been a Mite clinic Monday night, CAHA practice Thursday night and one or two games per weekend, not too bad.

And then this week hit. It is the CAHA tournament this weekend, the last games of the season. So this week he had his normal CAHA game Sunday, select game last night, practice Thursday, game Friday, games on Saturday and then will have a select game on Sunday. Then we go to Tuesday and Thursday practices running up to our one "away from home" tournament in Cleveland in three weeks.

Ben can't wait to go away, for a 7 year old that is just beyond cool. My kids LOVE hotels as it is, always an adventure and the thought of him being with 12 of his buddies in the same hotel is just over the top for him. Even the girls are excited because "all the sisters will be there to." So our life is a bit hockey heavy for the next few weeks. We try to make the most of it, going to games and practices as a family so we can all still eat together, etc. If it is a really early game (like the 7:20 kind) me and the girls will skip it, I just can't bear to wake them up. But for the most part we are his biggest fan and cheer along as much as we can (or as loud as we can).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

2/20 Blog: Girls night out

Last night I did something I rarely ever do - had a girls night out. This weekend my in-laws came to town. They visit us about every six weeks. Normally Arnie and I go out on Saturday night, given we have free babysitting. But this weekend is different. One of the main reasons they came down is because Ben's hockey team is skating at the intermission of our local minor league hockey game tonight. During the Cincinnati Cyclones 2nd intermission the Ice Dragons will take the ice, so we are all heading to the game. It should be a blast, I will let you know tomorrow.

Given we wouldn't be going out on Saturday, then the normal thing would be to go our Friday. This wasn't possible for Arnie because he had the Father-Daugther dance at the elementary school. He and Claire would be going to that. I could have just come home and had dinner with Ben, Sarah and my in-laws, but instead I decided to see if two girlfriends wanted to go out for dinner. Thank goodness they did. Laurie and Andrea, both colleagues from work, and I headed to Newport on the Levee. Newport has tons of restaurants and movies so one stop shopping.

We decided to have Seafood, very selfishly for me because it was a Friday in Lent and I could not have meat. Plus I never get to go to seafood with Arnie given his allergies, so it was perfect. We had a very leisurely dinner and good fun, chatting about everything from work to old boyfriends finding us on Facebook. After dinner we went to see Valentine's Day. I went in with no expectations as the reviews I read were horrible, but if I am being honest I liked it. What's not to like about lots of eye candy, and stories of meant my criteria in a movie, I felt good when I left, got a little tight in the chest at times and shed a tear. The end to a perfect evening.

As I thanked my friends and said goodbye, I did have some guilt, as I hadn't seen Sarah at all that day. She is our late sleeper so I left before she was awake, and of course she would be asleep. When I got home I crawled into bed with her and gave her lots of hugs and kisses, now that was truly the end to the perfect night, or maybe then laying next to Arnie.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2/16 Blog: How was your Valentine's day?

Happy belated Valentine's to each of you. I hope you had wonderful V-Day. I wish I could say we make a big deal out of V-Day or even our Anniversary, but it really depends on what day of the week it falls on and what else the calendar has in store for us. This year it ended up that our Theatre date night at Playhouse in the Park was on the 13th, so we booked a dinner beforehand. One of the restaurants we like was having a pre-fixed menu that was a pretty good deal.

So, we got one of our favorite sitters and off we went. Arnie was pretty clear when we sat down at 6pm that we had an 8pm show to make. With it being pre-fixed menu we didn't think this would be hard to do. In actuality, given it was 6:20 before they even took our order (I forgot we had been sitting for almost 20 minutes) I should have known we were in trouble. We enjoyed each of the three first courses they brought us, the problem was we only got through three of the five.

We had to ask for a check and cancel the rest to make our bummer. Really bad service, of really good food. So bad not sure we will go back. Bummer. The good news is the show we saw "Fall from Heaven" (or something close to that) was FANTASTIC, truly superb. It made up for our short, really small (but good for the diet) dinner.

So we had a special night out, just the two of us. On Sunday, the actual v-day, we were lazy ALL day long. We watched tons of Olympics and hung out with the kids. I think we were counting on Monday to maybe be more active. Unfortunately we didn't check the we got about 8-10 inches of snow, so no one was going anywhere. You all know what that means...yes another snow day today in Cincy, our 4th of the year. Even my 7 year old has now figured out in his words "we don't want any more because they start shortening our summer vacation" (can you tell he doesn't "love" school).

So back to V-day. I think the reason why we don't go "overboard" is because you shouldn't have to rely on a holiday (or made up holiday) to be extra sweet to your special person. Try to be sweet everyday, always tell them you love them. Never leave or let them leave without a kiss goodbye. Be appreciative when they help you out and remind them you couldn't do it all without them. I too have days when I don't do all of these which is bad, but I sure try to do at least a couple of them as I do know my life would really stink without my husband, he is my best friend and he makes each day so much better. Enjoy yours...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

2/14 Blog: How many roles do you have?

At P&G we are very fortunate to have some truly amazing leaders to learn from. Because we are a promote from within company, we highly value people's ability to develop others and the broader organization. We had one General Manager in particular who was a truly aspirational leader - Jim Lafferty. Jim just retired this past year, but thankfully in true fashion he did a long road show before leaving to share some of his wisdom before his retirement from P&G.

Jim had a couple of core principles that he shared that I truly believe in and try to practice each year. The first is one that many people have which is a list of what you want to do before you die. Jim would say to have 100 things you want to do and to try to cross 2-3 off each year. Of course it depends on how you define your list with how hard this is to do. For instance one person may list a few states or countries he or she wants to visit before they die. Another person my list "visit all 50 states" or "visit all the countries in Europe" as one item. No matter how you compose your "bucket" list be sure that you can achieve the items so you feel fulfilled when you do, don't make it too hard.

The second big principle Jim proposes is to define your roles in life. He believes each person can only have five roles and do them well. I personally believe some women can actually pull off six, but let's stick with five for this blog. Importantly you have to get really clear on your roles. Let's give some examples. If you are married then you are a husband or wife. If you have children then you are a mom or dad. If you are employed you are a nurse, teacher, manager, etc. That is three roles right there. The last two get a bit trickier for those working parents. Most people would have son or daughter listed. It takes an effort to be a son or daughter in staying in touch with your parents, caring for them in some cases and managing the normal family affairs of holidays and so forth. You are also likely a brother or sister. I actually combine sister and daughter into one role. All of my family are in NY, and at this point my parents are still independent and don't require an care. So my relationship is via phone calls, email and trips home.

That leaves some of us one or two roles. Hopefully most of us are a friend. To be honest for me this is a tough one. My dearest friends are miles away, so it has become about email at best...even facebook entries. I try to keep in touch, but not having an on-going relationship doesn't make you the #2 priority when you happen to be in the NY area over Christmas. Net, it is tough. In Cincinnati, we are very good about seeing our neighbors regularly. But even our work friends take effort. Any time a babysitter is involved, and remember we don't have family we can call, we have to plan it, this means no spontaneity. So we try to plan a social calendar to see people but it is tough.

Other people have "athlete" or "fitness" as another role. A priority is to work out and stay in shape. This is certainly one of my husbands. He makes time each day or week to fit in all of his training so it is a key role for him. I on the other hand gave this up when I had my kids. I was able to keep playing basketball until I was pregnant with my third, but just don't have time or don't make it a priority (likely a little of both) these days.

Another group of people have the role of "volunteer". I had this role when I was single and even married without kids. But that was another role I had to temporarily give up when the kids arrived. I hope I will pick it up again when I am able to drop another role.

I encourage you to think about your roles and try to get it down to five. It helps prioritize what is important in life and how to spend your precious time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2/11 Blog: Predicting the future

Don't we all wish we could predict the future.

As a teenager you are trying to figure out and know "what am I going to be when I grow up".

As a twenty-something you want to know "will I get married and to whom"...just tell me it will happen...some people even go to fortune tellers to ease their anxiety in this area.

Then you find your soul mate and wonder what your family will many kids? what genders? will they be healthy.

Then perhaps you try to figure out your financial situation, where will my kids go to college? Heck, will they even go to college? When will I die? We all wish at some point in our life that we had a crystal ball that tells us the future.

In my current job I try to predict the future on a regular basis. My job is to create the future innovation for hair care, as many as 10 years from now. In order to do this we need to have some prediction of what the future will be like. Some things we know for sure, the world's population will be older, it will shift to the east, more people will be "poor" by today's standards and so forth.

But other things we don't know, like will water be in shortage? Will all products be delivered to your door. I have the pleasure of "hypothesizing" all of this. Today 30 of us are locked in a room (yes, with no windows) laying out our strategy through 2020. Needless to say I am brain dead, but boy it is exciting...I get to try to predict the future...without tarot cards

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2/9 Blog: Snowy in Cincinnati

Almost the end of a work day from home today. We got more snow overnight...nothing compared to DC and Philly, but for Cincy...too much. It was that dry snow that is hard to drive in, which made it easy for me to say "I'm working from home." People here are not very comfortable driving in the snow, which makes it very unsafe on the roads. Heck, even rain makes it a huge delay to get to work. So again Arnie and I stayed home (and yes schools were closed). We have a break now but it is supposed to snow again overnight, we will see what tomorrow brings.

Needless to say we may it home safe and sound from Buenos Aires, we had a great time. Truly a beautiful country. Iguaza Falls was definitely the highlight. You can actually check it out online, lots of pics, and right now it it a finalist for "the natural seven wonders of the world." I recommend a visit to the site, I now have at least three new places I want to go visit after viewing it.

The kids survived just fine with my parents, as would be expected. And being the great parents they are my parents managed to paint my basement and install two new kitchen faucets while they were I love them. The other upside is my kids now love my cooking as all of my moms meals didn't go over so well in the Zucker household....I think a bit too much for the kids (to quote claire "her chili had too much sauce").

Being the crazy women I am after a day of unpacking, laundry and getting things settled, I decided to have all the neighbors over for dinner Saturday. It had snowed all night and just felt like a great time to have people over. We ran to Sam's to pick up some flank steak and salad stuff. Before you knew it 22 people were in the house having a great meal and lots of great conversation. The steak was simple, I paired it with Betty Crocker au gratin potatoes, a spinach salad, my neighbor brought green beans, another brought an appetizer, another pasta for kids to go with the hot dogs I made and another wine. Not too much effort and everyone had a blast. The evening followed a lot of my tips:

- entertain at home
- don't be afraid to use "packaged" meals (i.e. Betty Crocker)
- ask for help...all the neighbors brought something
- shop at warehouse clubs for good deals

We'll see what the weather brings tomorrow and if we can make it to work or not...fine by me either way and boy is it just beautiful outside.