Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Pictures

These types of posts exist simply to make me happy. Here's a month by month favorites from 2012. Happy New Year - may 2013 be filled with lots of love, health and happiness for you all!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Official Launch of The Having It All Project

One of those moments when I had it all in 2012

It started as a small germ of an idea just days before the Springboard Conference; this need to do something more with this space. I mean, I know you all love my ramblings and ideas on having it all, and I love dissecting the issues of the day. But it's always bothered me to read all of these pieces that don't actually address how we're getting it done. Policy is all fine and good, but until the big changes are enacted, what are people doing in their every day lives to have it all, in the right here and now?

The Having It All Project hopes to address just that. Every Friday in 2013 (hopefully), I'll be posting an interview with someone who should have an interesting perspective on how they are personally having it all. Here's are the questions each person will answer:

1) Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.

2) What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?

3) Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it.

4) Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you?

5) Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then?

Wanna get involved? Email me at and I'll schedule a date for you.

Looking forward to sharing many insights with you in the coming year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Work At Home Tuesdays

In February 2011, I started to work from home every Tuesday. Here in Newton, MA, the elementary schools end their day on Tuesdays at 12:30 pm, and looking ahead to when Hannah would be attending religious school at 4 pm on those days, I started my work from home journey in anticipation of needing to fill that childcare gap. LinkedIn is doing a series of articles on "Big Idea 2013" highlighting the concepts we need to address in the coming year, and flexibility without shame is one of them.

(Go ahead, go click on that link. And click on the one in the article about "how even just 15 minutes a day of “hair and make-up” time adds up to more than one workweek a year. !!!" Yes, "!!!" is an appropriate response when you do the math on that and get to 60+ hours. But I digress.)

Obviously, working from home doesn't work for everyone. We can't bring our broken sinks to the plumber's house. But for a lot of jobs now, working from home is a completely feasible way to work - if the powers that be can learn to accept it.

When I started at my current company, my back office job would have been very challenging to do from home, especially since I needed physical signatures on documentation every day. But when I moved to the portfolio management side, I knew that things would be more flexible. However, when I asked if it would be acceptable for me to work from home on, for example, days when three year old Hannah might have a doctor's appointment, I was told that I should still come in to the office. That was in 2007. The technology was already in place, but the attitudes weren't there yet.

But then I had the issues with my back, where I couldn't sit or stand without extreme pain, and I couldn't get through a day at the office (believe me, I stupidly tried and did work from the floor of my cubicle). I managed to work from home throughout that ordeal, other than the surgery day itself, and proved that I was capable of doing so much remotely. So when I asked about working from home one day each week nearly a year later, it was instantly approved. It turned out others were doing the same thing - just no one was talking about it (at least not to me).

So for one day a week, I skip the commute. I get to take Max to school. Hannah used to have in-home piano lessons during that gap of time. Sometimes she and I go out to lunch and just talk. I move laundry through the machines. I'm home for the electrician to install the beautiful new light we just put in this week. And I WORK. I make phone calls, review RFPs, update slides and get back to clients. But the time I spend doing other things that help make my life work is probably less than the time some of my coworkers might spend discussing their latest fantasy football picks. And, I think it's made it easier for some of my male coworkers to work from home on occasion too.

Working from home one day a week works for me. In return for the flexibility, my company gets a level of dedication from me that they wouldn't get if I was constantly replacing babysitters to accommodate that afternoon childcare gap, or taking time off to meet the electrician. I hope it's a concept more companies will be able to embrace, and without seeing it negatively, in the year ahead.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Honoring the Teachers

"Busyville" - the town Hannah created for a school project

As we all still reel from the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, last week, fellow blogger Outlaw Mama shared her post "I've Always Had Angels Looking Out For Me" about the teachers who took an interest in her throughout her life. I loved the idea of paying homage to those women and men who helped shape the person I've become. Below I share some of my experiences and thank not only those teachers, but acknowledge all of the family and friends who continue to shape and inspire children every day.

For the teachers who:
  • Let me show off my new Cabbage Patch Kid dolls.
  • Pretended that she and I had special mind-reading skills.
  • Put on the play I wrote in third grade.
  • Let me join the choir when I moved in mid-year.
  • Taught me organizational skills along with science.
  • Were purposefully hard on me, because they knew I had more to offer.
  • Organized the trip to Boston that changed my life.
  • Allowed my friends and me hang out in your classroom during your lunch hour.
  • Appreciated my point of view more than the fact that I completed the assignment.
  • Permitted the class discussion to go off topic on the days we needed it.
THANK YOU. Thank you for showing up each day, for taking the task seriously, for treating each student as an individual, for taking care of children in ways that their parents cannot.

What did a teacher do for you?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

General Busy-ness: December 2012 Edition

H&X Hanukkah scooters
I've been wanting to post all week, since I've really been trying to write at least once a week, but writing responsibilities at work just left me completely drained each day. Plus I had the annual task of writing my self evaluation hanging over my head, which due to those other writing assignments, didn't get started until Friday afternoon.

The Friday afternoon of Newtown, CT.

I wrote through my tears as I listened to live streaming coverage, not watching, just listening. I'm not going to be able to add anything more eloquent than others have said elsewhere, but I am absolutely heartbroken for all involved.

It did make me realize, however, that I didn't need to justify the post I wanted to write. While I've been trying to be more eloquent, sticking to a topic, keeping my Having It All Project progressing, I also don't want to lose the roots of what got me writing in the first place. So welcome to the inaugural edition of "General Busy-ness" - basically, what we've been up to for the last month or so. Here goes.

Just before Thanksgiving, Marc accepted a new job and will be starting tomorrow! After nearly six years with the same company, this is a big change for him, and for me too. I'm going to be working an earlier schedule and picking up both kids after school, which I have to admit makes me nervous. More to come on that as it unfolds.

We had a fantastic Thanksgiving in Cleveland with my parents, Ryan and Allison. My mom prepared a lovely meal for Thanksgiving day. Ryan brought his Xbox Kinect with him from California and kept all of us entertained with a variety of games all weekend. We got to see the newly expanded Cleveland Museum of Art, the botanical garden (thanks to Monina for the suggestion) and the Natural History Museum, but the highlight was celebrating my parent's upcoming 40th wedding anniversary at Moxie. It was a really special night for all of us, and I'm so glad we got to spend the time together.

Just a few days after we got home, Marc went on a five day business trip, his longest trip away from home yet. I'm still not quite sure how I got through the time without him, especially as I developed a problem with one of my eyes just hours after he left. Unfortunately, my cornea sustained a very painful "peripheral infiltration" that forced me into my glasses and on antibiotics for just over a week. There's still a teeny tiny white spot on my pupil, which only I and my doctor am able to see, but I'm making a bigger effort to wear my glasses now and give my eyes a rest. Thus, after five and a half years, I finally bought a new pair of glasses too.

The kids, of course, aren't slowing down for a moment. Hannah got to perform for the first time with the Kol Keff children's choir at our synagogue, both at a local nursing home and in front of the congregation at our annual Hanukkah party. She also performed as an alien during her after care's performance of a play created by her "opera club," which was one of the most creative and fun things I've seen her do yet. Max entertained us all at a session of his T-ball class at the JCC. I had thought toddler ballet classes were the height of cute, but seeing these kids try to hit the ball from the T and running the bases was beyond adorable. Max is also keeping us busy with his constant counting and singing - Hanukkah has been an excellent holiday for exercising those skills!

Hanukkah in general was low key but lovely. We ate latkes and sang songs. Hannah is quite a serious dreidel player now. Max and I had a great time at the JCC party, where while doing a craft he carefully applied the letter stickers to "Happy Hanukkah" completely backwards (did Disney know it spells "hakunnah" that way?). We went to our annual Wright Family Hanukkah party in Hartford yesterday, and it was great to see so much of Marc's family. The kids were thrilled with all of their gifts this year, including the scooters you see above.

So yes, it's a lot of cheeriness above, but hopefully you know that there is a lot of gratitude too. I want to have this living archive of who the four of us are, and while these types of posts might not garner a lot of comments, they're really important to me. I hope you'll keep reading along, and be inspired to share the wonderful (and not so wonderful) parts of your life with me, too.

member of the blogging community lost her nephew, Noah, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Donations to help his parents and older siblings can be made here. More information can be found here. I hope you'll consider helping.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Online Resources for Having It All

As I continue to grow and expand my having it all focus, I wanted to share some of the resources I've found for others thinking about these issues too.
First off is the site Hello Ladies. I was recently interviewed by the woman who runs the site, Liz, for her upcoming book on working women and housework, and it raised so many questions for me about my own life and how I'm managing things. Liz's posts range from serious discussions, casting light on topics many would rather avoid, to fun gift guides for the working woman in your life. Liz is looking to conduct more interviews for her book still, so please contact her if you'd like to get involved. Hopefully she and I will get to meet in person at some point too!

Since Anne-Marie Slaughter lit up the internet with her article Why Women Still Can't Have It All, The Atlantic has become one of my go-to sites (and favorite Twitter feeds) for a lot of great content. They recently launched a new section called The Sexes where they intend to expand upon the conversation that started in earnest with Slaughter's piece. I really enjoyed this article on a new film and the author's conclusion that "sports, despite hundreds of films and thousands of beer commercials, just has nothing to do with being a man."

Finally, there's Liberating Working Moms.Written by a group of working moms of many different stripes, the site conquers the day-to-day aspects that I talk about here too: finding time to work out, what to wear, the emotional side of it all. I'm envious of the woman in this post who got to take a week off between the end of one job and start of another - that is something I definitely fantasize about.

What about you? What are some of your favorite sites? Please share in the comments below!

This post is something I've written as part of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, Day 7. I'm really enjoying thinking about my blog in all these new ways!

image credit:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mars, Venus and Guilt

Max's preschool planet diorama 

I recently had a conversation with a friend where I mentioned the guilt factor. Yes, for me it's an ever-present feeling of incompetence that I'm not able to be in more places at the same time. I hinted it a bit on Halloween, that incompleteness. I wanted to be at both the school party that morning and able to Trick-or-Treat that night, but I knew I had to chose one because I had to work. I know I should feel fortunate that I work at a job where I could go at all, but I still felt sad. But my friend said it would never have crossed his mind to feel bad at all, much less guilty, that he couldn't be in both places. 

In his mind, he's made his choices, and when he made those choices, that's it, they were done. For him, he decided to work. He knew that if he worked, of course there would be things along the way that got missed, but it wouldn't be a new injury each time. He said it was a Mars-Venus thing, that as children, boys are more indoctrinated in the idea that your choices have consequences. Where girls are told they can have it all, boys are taught to make sacrifices and not look back.

Perhaps it's a bit of a generational thing, as I'm not sure many of my peers look at the dynamic as a Mars-Venus thing anymore. I know plenty of men who feel guilt over not being able to do it all as parents. 

Or do I? Is this a more common reaction for women than men? Am I the only one who struggles with each new conflict? Let me know in the comments below.

(And hey, when's the last time you shared a post from Busy Since Birth? I'd love it if you shared this with your friends!)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Solo Parenting Weekend

Marc is away on a business trip and I am trying to hold down the fort as best I can on my own for a while. This in and of itself isn't incredibly interesting, but I'm participating in "31 Days to Build a Better Blog" with someone of my fellow Boston Parent Bloggers, and today's assignment is to write a list post. (Yesterday's was to work on your elevator pitch - anyone catch the new tagline on their way to this post?) I have to admit I am a fan of the list post...within limits. Not too long, definitely no slideshows, and preferably the extended list format that I'm about to employ below. So here goes. And yes, I'm pretty much making this up as I go along.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Surviving a Solo Parenting Weekend.

1) Get some alone time before it even happens. For me, that was a trip to Target on Friday night. Alone. Yes, I know how to live it up! But seriously, a shopping trip was exactly what I needed, as I was able to get all those random odds and ends that were rattling around my brain into my cart. Which brings me to my next point.

2) Tape. Lots of tape. Or whatever your child's favorite non-messy crafting supply might be. I bought Max six new rolls of tape from the dollar bins and the kid is as happy as can be. Max can keep busy designing any number of things with his tape, from a "cast" on the paw of his Pillow Pet to giant pirate ships from multiple sheets of paper. Tape is fairly non-destructive and cheap, so you really can't wrong.

3) Eat what YOU like. Last night we hit the Mexican restaurant that's a bit of a pain to get to, and since Mexican isn't one of Marc's favorites, we went and ate chips and salsa til our taste buds burned. Tonight, I put out a bowl of uncooked carrots, and the kids tried to crunch as loud as they could, but it made them laugh and they ate a lot more than usual. This is the chance to do something outside the norm and relax.

4) Be a little more lax on bedtime. Those extra minutes mean so much to my kids and don't cost me much. Now I'm not saying throw out your whole schedule, but 10 minutes sounds like an awful lot to a nearly five year old. Who (ahem) also slept in my bed last night. It was a special treat, and he knows he goes back to his room tonight, but the extra bit of good will made him miss Daddy a little bit less. But tonight?

5) Put clean sheets on your bed. Really. I know it's one of those chores you might be tempted to skip when there's so much extra to do on your plate, but getting into a bed with clean sheets is one of the best sensations ever. So when you're finally done putting the kids to bed and all of the other chores are accomplished, you get to experience that moment of bliss of getting a nice clean bed - all to yourself.

So there are my tips. What would you add?