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What is 42

My birthday is coming up and I am turning 42. In some books and in code this might be the answer to the universe but what is 42 to me? What does a 42-year-old working mom look like?

Sometimes I forget how old I am and since moving up to Seattle and having kids, a lot of my new friends are also moms. Since our commonality isn’t high school, these new friends have a wide variety of ages and I am no longer surrounded by people who are born in the late ’70s, except for my hubby who is only 6 months older.

So when I look around what does 42 look like. It’s an interesting decade for a woman who is either starting to have kids since it is now or never, or wrapping up her family with what she has. She grew up in the last wave of analog as a child who transitioned to a digital world as it grew with her. For me this transition happened so slowly, so naturally, and I was so focused on my own golden egg that I didn’t stop to look around and see what I was doing, what course I was on, what train I had jumped on without even asking if I was onboard. I was doing stuff that I just did, since that is what everyone did, and never stopped to ask myself why. One of these whys was my hair.

My Mom owned her own hair salon in the San Francisco Bay Area and sometimes after school, I would be there waiting for her to finish, so why not get my hair done. I think I started coloring my hair around 10 with highlights and fun colors and just never stopped. Many years later as an adult, I noticed some gray hairs in my natural dark brown. Without thinking I just kept coloring.

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My Mom no longer works and spends a lot of time out of the country. I work fulltime and have two little kids. I have very few hours to myself and coloring my hair became a chore. An expensive one! So I really thought about it. Why am I doing this? Because 42-year-olds don’t have gray hair? I won’t look attractive? I’ll look old? People will treat me differently? What will others think?

Well, you know what … I am doing it!

It’s only been 2 months of growth but I am excited to see what my natural hair looks like. I’m excited to embrace it and really own my gray hair. Own my age, own the fact woman don’t need to hang on to youth like it holds value when in reality, each of these gray hairs tells a story of life and the years of experience this body holds. Each sparkle of gray is an exhibit of my wisdom and strength.

In a way, it feels rebellious going gray.

So hello 42 and finally being old enough, to be strong enough, to be me. * L


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Money Smart Seasonal Buys by Month

2020 is around the corner and if you are like me you got a new planner or calendar and are ready to jot down all the important dates. Well, this year includes all the seasonal buys so you don’t miss out and you get things at the best time of year for the lowest price.

JANUARY 

Linens and Bedding-John Wannaker made January THE month to purchase new linens and bedding. In 1878 he started the marketing strategy of having “The White Sale” at the beginning of the year. Still, today retailers honor and follow his strategy.

This is also the best month to buy Christmas Decorations at a huge discount.

Seasonal Produce– Oranges, Broccoli, Leeks, and Cabbage.

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Wintertime is your best bet for buying a boat. If you purchase between January and March, you won’t have to pay as much as dealers won’t bundle boat show prices into the final cost of the boat and you might get a good deal from someone who doesn’t have a slip and is paying for storage during the dark winter.

This is also a good time of year to buy that big screen TV thanks to the Superbowl specials.

Seasonal Produce– Lemons, Grapefruit, Papaya, and Cauliflower.

MARCH

So apparently there is a big push to sell and offer coupons for frozen food in March. It is even called “National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Month”.

Seasonal Produce– Lettuce, Pineapples, and Mangoes

APRIL

This is the best month to buy all that snow gear if you can find it. Snowblower, snow shovel, snow toys, and clothes are all as low as it gets so get some good deals and be ready for the winter ahead.

Seasonal Produce- Arugula, Dandelion Greens, Beets, and Asparagus.

MAY

This month is all about Picnic & Barbecue Supplies. Starting in May you can see a lot of discounts to kick off the summer grilling season.

Seasonal Produce- Artichokes, Okra, Rhubarb, Spring Peas, and Cherries.

JUNE

Don’t ask me why but apparently Dairy Products go on sale in the summer months. We use a lot of butter and they say you can freeze it for up 6 months. Now I just need a bigger freezer and I can stock up for all the holiday baking.

Seasonal Produce– Apricots, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Peaches, Strawberries, and Watermelon.

JULY

It’s hot out and this is when all the summer fashion stuff is in full swing and you can get the best deals on all the spring clothing. Buy that fun easter dress and other spring stuff so you are set for next year. This is also the time of year of Nordstrom’s Annual Anniversary Sale and you can get some fabulous deals with the best customer service.

Seasonal ProduceSummer Squash, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Corn, and Green Beans.

AUGUST

I always get the best deals on beach & water toys, backyard pools, and everything summer at this time of year. Stores are already pulling in School stuff and summer things are marked way down.

Seasonal ProduceBlackberries, Blueberries, Kiwi, Melons, Raspberries, Tomatoes, Carrots, and Cucumber

SEPTEMBER

The best time to buy most major appliances is during the months of September and October. During these two months, manufacturers unveil their latest models. This means that the previous year’s models must be discounted in order to make room for the new models that will hit stores in the winter.

Seasonal ProduceSpinach, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Cranberries, Grapes, Runner Beans, Sweetcorn, Watercress, and Pomegranates.

OCTOBER

You know what no one is thinking about in October? Air Conditioning! This is the perfect time of year to buy one or get one installed in your home for a great deal.

This is also the best month out of the year to buy a new car. New models come out at the end of the summer, so you can find a great deal on a car at this time of year.

Seasonal Produce- Mushrooms, Pumpkin, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Tangerines, Chestnuts, Figs, Quince, Kale, and Walnuts.

NOVEMBER

Every November my family does a no-spend challenge but we make sure to buy our Live Christmas Trees the day after Thanksgiving. It is always a Black Friday special and you’ll get your best deal. You also get to pick the best one on the lot being so early.

Seasonal Produce- Cranberries, Elderberries, Passion Fruit, Celery, and Potatoes.

DECEMBER

Offseason is the best time to buy camping gear. It’s when stores want to get rid of last year’s supply as the new season’s equipment hits the shelves. So think camping gear for maybe this year’s Christmas gifts. I think it is perfect since I already have my campsite for 4th of July booked.

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This is also the best time of year to buy Champaign. Multiple market studies have confirmed that in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s, Champagne prices are actually at their lowest since demand is high creating more competition between brands.

Seasonal Produce- Clementines, Pomegranate, Satsumas, Tangerines, Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, and Turnips.

 

Thanks for reading and let me know if there are any other monthly favorites to make sure not to miss. * L

 


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A Month of Kindness

Today is World Kindness Day and thought it was a great day to give away my December 2019, Month of Kind Acts for Kids.

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December is a busy month; especially at my house with two birthdays, so having a kind act each day is a great way to stay in the spirit of giving, thinking of others, and being kind. Print the above image out and have your kids mark off the tasks each day. More details on the kind acts below and feel free to modify to fit your kid’s ages. Mine are currently 4 & 6 and I made edits based on how some of the kind acts went last year.

Day 1 – Start the month of giving with a small give, and have your kids do something nice for a stranger. Maybe it is letting a friend go first in line, removing a rock or stick from the path of someone biking, or smile and say hi to a person walking near you.

Day 2 – Help someone in your family. Make your sister’s bed, bring the dishes to the sink, get your mom a glass of water.

Day 3 Donate food to a local food bank or make some goodies to give to your neighbors.

Day 4 – Get someone a drink. Maybe it a free coffee with Mom in the car, hot cocoa for a teacher, or water at dinner for your dad.

Day 5 – Play extra nice with friends. Let them have the toy, give them an extra turn, be a super nice friend today.

Day 6 – Help pick a tag off a giving tree and/or help pick out the gift with a parent.

Day 7 – Collect all the toys you no longer use or want to donate to others.

Day 8 –  Extra love for the pets. If you have a dog go on a long walk, if you have a cat give them extra petting, if you have a fish sing them a song.

Day 9 – Give your face something to do and smile at everyone.

Day 10 – Make something for Grandma or a loved one. Maybe it is cookies or just a drawing.

Day 11 – Leave candy-canes in the neighborhood. Either in mailboxes or at their door.

Day 12 – Help out a neighbor. Bring in their newspaper, help clean up the sidewalk.

Day 13 – Bake something and share it with loved ones and friends.

Day 14 –Help make Christmas cards. Maybe it is just decorating the envelopes or addressing them with stickers.

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Day 15 –Visit a senior center and be a member of the community.

Day 16 –Post inspirational notes or artwork on post-its and put them up in public places for others to see.

Day 17 – Make a bird feeder to hang in a tree.

Day 18 – Participate in neighborhood caroling. Or sign for family members and put on a show.

Day 19 – Bring a gift for a teacher. It can be flowers or something you made.

Day 20 – Bring treats for your class. Maybe its stickers, or a tasty treat.

Day 21 – Hold open the door.

Day 22 – Buy something special for a family member.

Day 23 – Make thank you cards. This way you have them ready to go on Christmas day.

Day 24 – Clean up the yard or the front door area so Santa feels welcomed.

Day 25 – Call family members and say hello.

Day 26 – Help take down Christmas.

Day 27 – Host a playdate.

Day 28 – Write thank you notes.

Day 29 – Help make dinner with your parents.

Day 30 – Bury treasures at the park, like small toys and stickers.

Day 31– Pick up trash at the park/beach/school.


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Halloween & The Dead with Kids

This October was my Dad’s 2nd birthday he didn’t have. He would have been 81, and on the 5th of October, my family and I build a shrine on our fireplace mantle to remember not only my Dad but others in our family including some pets who are no longer with us on earth.

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We started this tradition two years ago and it was the perfect time to talk about death with my then 2 and 4-year-old. It was also a great way to incorporate our culture as my Mom was born in Mexico and Offrendas are common at this time of year. Once we are done decorating the photos with candles, candies, and flowers we watch a movie. For my kids now 4 and 6, we still watch “The Book of Life”. It’s a cute cartoon about the transition of death but not scary at all. My kids enjoy the story and each year I think they pick up something different. It also starts the conversation about death and gives little kids the words and context to ask questions about death.

My son is more aware of death and even made me promise him I would never go skydiving again after he found out I’d done it twice. That said I still don’t think he understands it completely. Death is not easy to define and it is hard to talk about especially if you aren’t a religious family but, like me, do believe in a higher power.

I was raised catholic and I remember being very confused by death. One day my older brother found me playing with a dead bird in my dollhouse around age 5. It was the first talk I remember about death. I also remember being really confused as to why I couldn’t still play with the bird, as it was dead.

Research says a child’s understanding of death is broken down into 3 stages.

1-3 Years Old

At this age, kids don’t have the cognition to grasp what can’t be reversed.  They cannot grasp how death is final and can’t be undone. So kids at this age will talk about death as if it is just a trip or a car ride and they will come back once we find the right solution.

4-5 Years Old

At around age 4 kids start to learn that some things are not reversible. That said, about half still are learning this well into age 5. Even with this understanding that death is final kids around this age are still not able to grasp the magnitude of death and how they are no longer functional and can no longer do things that they could before.

6-7 Years Old

Every kid is different and those who have experienced more trauma and emotional events might understand death sooner. Around age 7 most kids understand death and that all living things will die. Still, some kids will think there are special groups of people who are protected from death, like family, friends, teachers and themselves.

73381173_417092529008880_6741290211495378944_nHave you talked about death with your kids?

Do share any tips or things to consider to help others who might be navigating this topic with a heavy heart. * L

 

 


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What the RACE

I usually do several book reviews in one post but most recently I got the privilege of reading a book so special it deserved its own post.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.

It’s probably worth mentioning, I would likely have never picked this book to read for myself. There is so much drama in the world right now,  and I usually read a book to escape or learn…

But I learned SO MUCH from this book!

Book

Since this is a book I most likely wouldn’t have picked up if it wasn’t for my awesome book club, Titles and Tangents, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of you would not either and that is why I wanted to write this post. Not to get you to buy the book, (but that would be awesome if you did,)  but at the very least I want you to be exposed to what I learned.

We are all privileged and if you really take a look at yourself you can do something powerful with that and make it a positive. What I like about this book is it doesn’t just tell the readers how and why we are privileged but actually give us something to do with it.

 

Step 1: Write down some of the ways you are privileged.

  • I was born and I live in America.
  • My skin color is white.
  • I’m employed and have a good job.
  • I have a car and can drive to work.
  • I can attend PTA and Parent Meetings at my kids’ schools.
  • I am happily married to a good partner.
  • My family has money and access to buy clean water and healthy foods.

Maybe your list looks different, maybe you feel safe running at night, or live in a good neighborhood, have a great group of friends, own your own home, know several languages, or are getting a college degree. No matter who you are we all have some advantage that we can leverage. Be honest with yourself and see how you are benefiting. Even a gay black woman who wrote this book recognized how she was also privileged.

All this said, I want to call out that this book just doesn’t talk about race, how we are privileged, what we are doing wrong, but also gives actionable things we can all do to make things better for everyone.

It is no longer just OK to ‘not be a racist’ but we need to be an ally, we need to be aware of the intersectionality we are placed in and use our privilege to benefit others.

 

Q: How can we do this?

At the PTA meeting and at school ask what the school is doing to around the school to prison pipeline? What their discipline procedures are? What is the school rate of expulsion for black, brown, and minority students? What is the school’s racial achievement gap and what is their plan to remediate it? As an ally and a white woman, I need to be asking these questions when I have the opportunity to be at the table as others might not have this privilege.

 

Step 2: Now take that list and make it actionable so you can be the ally to others who do not have this on their list.

To give you an example this is what mine looks like.

  • I was born and I live in America. So I can advocate for laws that help others who are not born in America have a good life here.
  • My skin color is white. So I am treated differently. I should use this to give others a voice and help elevate the issues around minorities that others might not be listening to.
  • I’m employed and have a good job. I can use that to help others get a job, network, open doors, and help them gain employment opportunities.
  • I can attend PTA and Parent Meetings at my kids’ schools. When I am there I can advocate for rules and regulations that support parents who can’t be there. I can suggest the meeting times be offered on different days or times so others can have the option to attend.
  • My family has money and access to buy clean water and healthy foods. I can buy snacks for the class, make food for others, and share to help people and families who can’t afford healthy foods.

 

Step 3: Educate yourself, listen, and be a true ally.

I get it, you aren’t a racist so why would you read this book. Because no matter who you are you don’t know the whole story. No one really does. So we all need to educate ourselves, listen without judgment, and be an ally to our fellow humans.

I’m not doing anything wrong, what more can I do?

It is almost Halloween and I’ve been there. I wanted to wear the sari I got in India for a wedding I attended. It’s beautiful and I love the culture and wanted to use it again. Thankfully a friend clued me in.

NO, it is not OK to dress up as a Mexican, African, Indian, or anything that is not what your culture is from and have the DNA in your blood. I know it is hard to think why your love for this culture is different and how you are not making fun of it but rather embracing it. I too have been there. The truth is you and your people did not suffer, you do not have stories in your family that make you cry about how they got treated. If you are not part of the hurt then you have no right to be part of the celebration. I see this now and I am happy Ijeoma mentions this in her book.

This is just a slice of what I found in the book and really hope you take the time to read it or listen to it. Educate, listen, and remember to think beyond yourself and how not being an ally is really just feeding the problem. It’s time for everyone to do more.

How are you doing more? Share in the comments and let’s be an ally. * L


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Kindergarten PREP

Last year my oldest started Kindergarten. It was a big change and I think I wasn’t really ready with what to expect. I’m betting that others out there might experience the same and wanted to try and help with this big change for you, your little one, and your family.

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The Hours

It doesn’t matter how early or late your school starts it is going to be a struggle getting out the door. Remember newborn days when it took forever to get out of the house and the baby would have a blowout right before you opened the door to leave? Well, this time it is remembering to bring X, don’t forget Y for whatever the special event or activity that is going on. At this point, you are just trying to keep track of what day the kids get out at 1:10 versus the other days when it is 2:43 or some other random time. Keeping track of the ever-changing times will make you miss the days you rushed home at the same time every day to get your little ones from the nanny or preschool.

Then, just when you think you have the new schedule down there will be ‘crazy hair day’ or some other fun event you forgot about and your child is all upset.

My tip would be to do as much as you can the night before. That includes filling water bottles and chilling them in the fridge.

Below are some links for all types of back to school parents.

The Bag

I was really happy I ended up getting my son the big backpack. They don’t have books to bring home, but they do have the monthly parties and school events that will make a larger bag super helpful to carry all their stuff.

In my kid’s bag, I also include a large ziplock bag with an extra set of clothes. He never ended up using them the whole year but you just never know if they have an accident, get dirty, or the day turns out to be really hot.

I also include a few other odds and ends in his bag;

  • Some small tissue
  • A tag with my son’s name and his parent’s phone numbers
  • Small hand sanitizer
  • Travel-sized hand wipes
  • Extra water bottle for class (with his name on it)

 

Food Time

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So I am all about the cute and fun bento box lunches, but I wasn’t prepared for doing class snack. You think “no biggie”, but when you look at it you signed up for a week of snacks and there are 24 students and they eat a snack two times a day so that is like 240 items. I wanted to give then variety but also wanted to it to be easy for the teacher to serve.

Here are a few options if you also have a class snack responsibility:

  • String Cheese Sticks
  • Yogurt Sticks
  • GoldFish crackers
  • Apple Slices
  • Muffins
  • Oranges
  • Pretzels

I often went to Costco and got the family pack of pre-packaged snacks when I needed inspiration. Also if you are looking for vegetarian bento box lunches I often share mine in my IG Stories for and on my Instagram Two Working Moms page.

Lunch Box

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Every school does it differently but after volunteering at lunch I saw how much these lunch boxes got tossed around. One reason why I have been very happy with the metal style lunch boxes we are using. They held up all year long and other than some external scratches they look good (the all-metal ones with no paint look best).

I love making bento box lunches. In a way, it is a fun creative outlet for me and my kids love them too. I make them while my hubby cooks dinner so I incorporate a lot of what we already have. The truth is, the lunch comes home hardly touched on most days and my son says he runs out of time. I think it is still a balancing act of socializing and eating at this age.

New Friends

No matter if you are going to a private school or the Kindergarten class down the street from home your kid will meet new friends. Some kids might be nervous, others are super excited and ready to talk. Whatever the feelings I thought it was helpful to talk to your little one about the diversity of kids. Great time to talk about kids who might have a disability, different kinds of families, and to try and be kind.

My son is very outgoing so I talked to him about being a helper and trying help other kids who might be nervous on their first day.

There are a lot of great books out there to help your little one prep for the first day at a new school. Maybe you can make the night before school extra special with a fun bath and a new book.

Lots of Good Stuff 

Kindergarten is a big milestone and it’s not all bad. In fact, I can’t wait for my youngest to go and have a more organized schedule for our family. We love the neighborhood school and it has some amazing teachers and staff. We have also met some really nice families and made new friends that live close to us. It has been a fun year building out our community and seeing how much my son has grown. He loves art now, learned to rollerblade in PE, gained confidence, made new friends, and learned how to read.

Here are some additional links to help with back to school:

How to Tackle Tough Drop Offs – NY Times

Healthy School Lunches & Snacks – Parents.com 

10 Questions to Ask Your Kids About Their Day – Scholastics

8 Tips for Managing Your Kids Back to School Stress – Real Simple

5 Back to School Tips for Working Parents – Entrepreneur

Hope this post helps and you all have a great start to the new school year.  * L


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Equality Needs to Start with us Ladies!

Women’s Equality Day is coming up on August 26th. It also happens to be my daughter’s 4th birthday and as I think about the day I, too, think about the world my daughter lives in and the kind of woman I hope she will be.

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Yes we need allies and we are moving in the right direction but things aren’t moving fast enough. What we need to do is be as accountable as possible for acting and living the life we deserve. Saying no when we are not treated as equals in the world both in the office and at home in the world of parenting. If you cannot get gender equality at home then how can we expect people in the workplace to do that?

Type “working mom” in Google and then type in “working dad” and see what comes up. You will find a lot about schedules, balancing life with moms and not much or anything like that for dads. The truth is we can have it all in the office and with our career but if we don’t have equality at home then working moms will never have work-life harmony.

OK, if you are not both working parents then stuff isn’t so 50-50, but if you are then you betcha they need to be.

Here are some ways I see working moms can help working dads with equality parenting:

  1. When the kids are sick the hubby stays home with them the first day.
  2. Use hubby’s email for all school forms so they get notified and can help with academic schedules (because they are always changing).
  3. Mom time. Find a time in the week that is your time. Mine is every Saturday morning and I do a long run and get coffee with my running friends after.
  4. Incorporate hubby in the evening routine. We have two kids so we each take one kid to put to bed and rotate what kid we have each night.
  5. Let hubby take the kids to birthday parties. Personally, I love birthday parties so often we all go but if I can’t then hubby goes with the littles.
  6. School drop-offs or pick-ups. You learn a lot when you take your kids to school in the morning or once you pick them up. You see who their friends are, talk to the teacher, meet the other parents. It is a huge part of their lives so have one parent do the drop-off and the other does pick-up if scheduled allow.
  7. Find hobbies together. My son loves soccer and hubby was the coach one season. He goes to all the games and it is their thing. My daughter is a foodie and hubby loves to cook so the two enjoy fun treats at home and out and about together.
  8. When you travel with kids you have to do everything for them. I’m a fashion lady so I like to know what my kids are wearing and pack for them, but I give a lot of the logistics to hubby like getting the rental car, tickets, and hotel accommodations.
  9. Leaving the house always takes longer with kids. Give hubby a task he can do each time to help get everyone out. I kind of became the snack lady so I usually make sure the kids have a backpack with the things they need and a water bottle. Hubby is the car seat guy. I send the kids outside once they have shoes on and their bag and he buckles them in. Hubby also manages the car seats if I need them in and out of the car. Mostly for our nanny car but he is the guy. I had to do it a few times when traveling with kids and no hubby but he gave me a lesson.
  10. Kids go to the doctors a lot. Vaccines, accidents, and whatnot. Often we both go but there are times when one of is busy and cannot go and we trade-off. It is important from a safety perspective but also good for both parents to be involved in their kids’ health.

If we can’t have these conversations with our partners about equality parenting then we should consider the impact it will have on our children and the world we are building for them to live in. If you can’t do it for yourself consider the other women and girls out there who will not invent the next life-saving drug, wifi technology, or machinery to make everyday life easier or yummier.

If you are as passionate as I am about this topic follow along with me and Two Working Moms as I explore this more in a month-long focus.

Also, let me know if you have other ways to support #equalityparenting. * L