Two Working Moms

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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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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


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Micro Habits

I read this book Atomic Habits by James Clear and just LOVED it. There are so many micro-lessons and things anyone can do to make a behavior change in their life. For my career I do just that, make material to change someone’s behavior. Often by teaching them something in order to be successful at their job.

Not everyone is going to read this book but if you are that is great and you will get a lot out of it. If you are like many who won’t read the book, I think this post will give you the highlights so you too can make some positive changes in your life.

The great thing about habits is they can be the catalyst for you and your goal. If you want to write a book… read more, hang out with other writers, find a place to write, dedicate time to write, do what writers do. What you do is who you are.

I thought a lot about this recently when someone asked me if I am a runner. I never really thought of myself as one, but instead, maybe someone who does it every now and then. The truth is I have done several half marathons, have another one in two weeks and it will be my 2nd race pacing for others. So yes, I am a runner and I run 3 times a week.

What type of person do you want to be? Start being that person with small micro habits. Want to be a runner, then start by getting running shoes, go for a walk, join a running group, run 1 mile.

The science behind habits is there is a cue, a craving, your respond, and then there needs to be a reward for it to be something you will do again. The issue with long-term goals is you don’t get that reward right away. It takes time to see results and so people stop running, stop writing, stop trying.

There are some simple things you can do around these 4 areas of habits to help create new ones and to break the bad ones. book.jpg

 

How to Create Good Habits

Cue = Make it obvious

Craving = Make it attractive

Response = Make it easy

Reward = Make it satisfying

How to Break a Bad Habit

Cue = Make it invisible

Craving = Make it unattractive

Response = Make it difficult

Reward = Make it unsatisfying

So what are ways to support the cue? You can leave your running stuff out so you see it when you wake-up. Or put your junk food in the back of the pantry so you don’t see it.

I run with friends and I look forward to listening to my music and playlists I only listen to while running. It is my time and I look forward to the pretty places I run in. I have my TV in the basement of my house, it is a dark part of my home, the sofa isn’t that comfortable, and is my least favorite room.

Running is attractive to me since it is a goal of mine to live a healthy life. Fitting into my clothes is a goal, keeping my mind happy is a goal, and I enjoy running. Buying new clothes since I gained weight is not attractive to me.

I make it easy by having a running bag with all my accessories like gloves, lights, hydration packs. I lay out my clothes the night before and I have friends who are waiting for me. I keep junk food out of sight, I put the veggies and fruit in the fridge in view and junk food in drawers. I keep healthy snacks with me and pack a healthy lunch when I have time. My response is tailored so I make better choices based on my environment.

The reward should be the process, not the goal. I enjoy my music, friends, the view while running. My goal is to be healthy and get faster, but my reward is how I get there. The goal is almost unsatisfying as the journey is over once I get there.

If you are looking to change a habit, start out small. Find one little thing you can do today to move in that direction. James, the author, suggests something that only takes 2 minutes. Build that around the 4 steps: Cue, Craving, Response, Reward and see how you change over time. Take a look at his book “Atomic Habits” if you are a reader and follow me on Instagram as I will be sharing tips around micro habits each day in August.

Here’s to being the best version of you. * L


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HELP

Even looking at the title “Help” makes me a little uncomfortable. Does it do that for you? Are you good at asking for help? Do you often help others? How does the word help show up for you?

For me, it is both my strength and weakness. I have never been good at asking for help. In fact, I might be the worst at it and am still working on it today. That said, it has made me strong, agile, and able to have grit, grow and be a strong person who is always pushing herself to do more, be better.

I didn’t realize I was bad at asking for help until I was listening to my mom tell me a story about when I was little. I was selling girl scout cookies with my friends and I was complaining about my stomach hurting. It was Saturday and my mom was working so my dad picked me up. We went home and I went to bed complaining about my stomach. My dad didn’t know what to do so he called my mom who owned her own hair salon in town. She asked, “did she eat breakfast, has she eaten?” Well, that was it. I was hungry and the adult in me hearing this story made me realize how bad I was at asking for help as a child.

I was so bad at asking for help that as a child I wouldn’t even ask my parents for food when I was hungry. 

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As a result of not asking for help, I pushed myself. If I struggled I tried harder. I found a way to make it work. I got lucky that some people saw me struggling, saw me looking out the window at school too long, and asked me if I needed help. Even when I said I didn’t, even when the whole town knew my Dad had cancer I said no. When I think back I got a lot of help and people really cared about me. I wonder if they helped since they knew I wouldn’t ask, or they appreciated how hard I was trying. As a result, I have so much respect for people who are trying, people who are hanging on, do it on their own and be accountable!

I also love to help and feel thankful I have found a profession that allows me to help others achieve success. I also feel very lucky that I have a husband who is a helper. He is my best friend and knows me even when I am not paying attention to myself. He even got morning sickness when I first got pregnant (and I didn’t). We are very connected and having someone like him, has been a lifesaver for me. He also loves to help and it’s been a learning process to let go of the control and accept that help.

Many times a story of one’s life doesn’t look the same from the outside. That strong woman who has it all together needs help too and I write this not to highlight this in me but to highlight this need for all the others who are too strong, too scared, too conditioned to ask for help.

We all have our dark moments, our struggle, and when you see this in a friend, a loved one, don’t ask how you can help, ask them “what do you need” so you can do that for them. A true gift is one that is not asked for, one that is given from the heart, one that doesn’t need recognition or even acknowledgment for the true gift is the ability to give.

Life is hard and we all need a little help sometimes. Make sure you don’t miss the quiet ones, the strong ones, the ones who aren’t asking for help… as they are often the ones who need it the most. * L

 


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10 Simple Ways to be More Productive

Sure I want hard abs and be able to run an 8 mile minute for a whole marathon but when I am really honest with myself I don’t want it bad enough. Enough to put in the hours of dedication to make it happen, the training, the discipline, and my “why” just is not strong enough to be disciplined enough.

So when I think about productivity I want the biggest bang for my time, what is the smallest investment I can make and have a big impact by doing that little thing? So I created a list and thought I would share my easy ways to be more productive and win at life.

  1. Make a to-do list the night before. I have a post-it notepad I use and when I am finishing my work day I fill it out so I am ready to go in the morning.
  2. Dedicate each day of the week to one of your goals as a focus. You could dedicate each Sunday to your spirituality or if you have 10 main focus areas rotate the days between them. Then when you look at your to-do list make sure to add something to compliment your daily focus. This way you chip away at your goals and a month won’t go by without you spending some time on that goal.
  3. Donation bag waiting to be filled. Having a decluttered workspace and home allows you to move faster, have less anxiety, and know what you are working with. Put a bag in your closet and add to it every day as you see and notice stuff you are no longer using or need. Donate it once it is full or if you have time give stuff away.
  4. Join a book club. It will force you to read more, even if it is listening to the audio on 2x speed the night before if you didn’t find time to finish. (Photo of my book club Titles and Tangents and our guest author.)30629628_10155711606057683_8272170684986163200_n
  5. Just do it.  Immediate action fuels a positive feedback loop that drives even more action, so whatever it is you have been waiting for don’t and make that call, leap, and start that new project or adventure now. Some say if it only takes 2 minutes don’t even write it done and just do the task. Focus on the quick wins and small tasks first so you get momentum on your day.
  6. Don’t watch regular TV. I do have a television in our basement and we have Apple TV so we download shows and watch them on Hulu and Netflix. Think of all the time you are saving by not watching commercials.
  7. Drink more water. Not only are most people dehydrated but water will help keep you healthy and feeling energetic. I also have noticed drinking a lot of water makes me use the bathroom more often. This forces me to take more breaks, move around, and that is great for my productivity to keep going on the long days.
  8. Join a group to align your goals with, like a running club. Or maybe it is just a group of friends that meet up on the weekends. Similar to the book club, having a group of people to hold you accountable or who you enjoy hanging out with to keep you moving. You would be surprised how many different types of Meet-ups or Groups you can find on Facebook to match any of your goals. Getting outside, fresh air, moving, and exercise not only keep you healthy but they keep you motivated in the right headspace. 53216920_1232557486896728_2110525093640667136_n
  9. Get a planner. You need to know how you are spending your time in order to modify it. I have been using the Passion Planner for 3 years now and even my husband has noticed a difference in my productivity as a result of using it. What I love about a planner is it is both for planning but also a great tool to reflect and track habits.
  10. Prioritize your sleep. This is my #1 easy way to be the most productive. If you go to bed early you can wake up at 5 am and have that golden hour to do you. Go to the gym, work on your book, start a new project, or get something done. It’s hard at first but this one new habit can do wonders for your productivity and it is like you have gained the magical 25th hour and will see your productivity skyrocket.

Hope this simple list helps you crush your goals and so you can make the most of your 24 hours each day. * L