Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rock Star Mom

As a mother I sometimes feel like a complete failure. There are many times that I have disappointed my children and believe that they are taking notes to write their own 'Mommy Dearest' books. Then there are the other times that I really feel like I have earned the title 'Rock Star Mom'. I thought I'd periodically share some of my mommy dearest moments as well as my rock star moments in the hope that some of you can relate and we can all commiserate together. I'm also hoping that if I put it down in writing I'll realize that maybe they cancel each other out and I'm not really that bad.

I'm going to start with a Rock Star Mom moment. They don't happen as often as I'd like but when they do I certainly feel like a million bucks. It all started last Monday when my daughter came home and told me that this past Friday was going to be 80's day. Be still my heart - the decade that I grew up in! I absolutely KNEW I could hit this one out of the park. Since I've been trying to get rid of all my old clothes I had nothing that the girls could wear (we were including Danielle's friend Katie in our adventure) so we planned to go shopping Thursday after I got home from work.

I spent the whole week planning different types of outfits for the girls, over sandwiches at the counter I showed them my ideas on the internet. Mike agreed to accompany us on our adventures and rate our authenticity of the costumes. I'm not a huge fan of goodwill but we gamely searched through racks and racks of color coordinated items and finally came up with two costumes. Who knew that we would be fortunate enought to have leg warmers back in style!

Katie ended up wearing a argyle vest with a white blouse & color coordinating tie (I couldn't find the square cotton ones so we weren't completely authentic) , leg warmers and big hoop earings. Danielle wore a white cotton shirt with a black studded belt slung low across her hips, leg warmers, big hoops and an armful of jelly bracelets. Both girls rocked the side ponies. I knew we were successful when the next day Katie told me that her dad said she looked exactly like someone he dated in high school. We had quite the laugh over that one once we got over the ick factor.

Both girls were so appreciative and excited that it was well worth the effort and expense (Goodwill isn't as cheap as I would have hoped). I got big hugs from both girls as they went off to school. I'm hoping these are the moments the kids will remember.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weekend with the Girls

This past weekend I had an opportunity to go away overnight with some of the women that I work with. My normal mode of operation is to not do to much with the people I work with outside of work due to the fact that I'm at work so much! However, with my new position I've really been trying to work on building upon my relationships with my new peers and vice-president (this was suggested to me by one of my mentors). When I was asked to participate in the overnight shopping/spa excursion I was a little hesitant but I decided it would be a good opportunity to spend some time getting to know my VP on a little more personal level (it worked out well since no one in my family would have been home Friday night).

There are two points to this story - the first is I had an absolute blast and need to do this more often!!! We left work at lunch time and got to Chicago about 5pm which only left us 2 hours to shop. It's quite amazing what one can accomplish in 2 hours when one puts their mind to it. I bought a turtle neck, sweater wrap, purse, a shell for an existing suit, a cardigan sweater set plus a 'fun' going out long sleeve t-shirt. Lucky me, everything was on sale even though they weren't quite a cheap as I would have liked. We then checked into our hotel (which was a fantastic deal at $65/night for a Hyatt that included breakfast and a shuttle to take us everywhere) and got ready for dinner. We had dinner at Maggiano's (a delicious Italian place) followed by drinks at a local club. I do have to say we were so tired from the day that we only stayed for one drink and were back in our rooms asleep by midnight.

The next morning we woke up and went for spa treatments. I had a massage (not quite as good as my regular lady) and a pedicure. At first I wasn't real keen on the women I work with seeing my without my hair and makeup done - or my feet being taken care of - however we all really had a good time getting everything done. We pretty much hit the road right after that so that we could get home to our families. I was SOOO relaxed the rest of the weekend it was amazing. The few hours that I didn't spend with the family was well worth how good I felt and I expressed it in my dealings with the family. Sometimes in our busy lives we forget that we need to take care of ourselves if we want to do a good job of taking care of the family.

The second point is that networking is really a good thing. It's very easy to get caught up in the 'I don't want to spend any more time away from my family' and that is a very valid excuse. However, if you are looking at moving your career along you really do need to take the time and nurture it. We all have season in our life and the season may be that you just need to go to work, do the best and can and then leave. There's nothing wrong with that, but I would encourage you to remember that how you act today is what sticks in your co-workers minds. By developing relationships (not brown-nosing) with your peers as well as those at higher levels it really gives them the opportunity to get to know you on a personal level. When promotion opportunities come up, if you have the skills the additional staff members pulling for you may help you get the job. It doesn't always have to be something as big as a get away weekend. It could be going down to the cafeteria at lunch, taking a break together or going out to a local restaurant after work for coffee and desert. Just like your family, a career needs a little nurturing and attention if it's going to thrive.

If nothing else, make sure to take the time for yourself!! It's something I going to try to do more of.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Water Heater Update

Good news! I called the plumber that installed our water heater five years ago and it's still under warranty. They were able to come out this afternoon and replace it only charging us for the labor. Of course I'm not sure how much that will be but I'm assuming under $150. Not bad for a new heater that should last us (hopefully) quite a while. Now if I can only be so lucky with the truck window.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Free Clothing!

For some reason I don't know anyone who has a girl older than my daughter so I'm always the one giving away her clothes for free to my friends and nieces. A couple of weeks ago I had helped out at our church rummage sale and scored a great deal on some brand name jeans and t-shirts.

Today the woman who I had bought the clothes from (we worked together at the sale so she knew what I had taken) brought to church a few more items her daughter found while going through her closet. She didn't want anything for them so I got them for free! My favorite price :) Next time I make my chicken chili I'm planning on making some extra for her as a thank-you.

The clothes just fit now so I don't know that they'll last more than a couple of months (my daughter is in a growth spurt) but they should get us through to Thanksgiving when my daughter and I do our annual day after Thanksgiving shopping spree to buy her some new clothes. Here's what we got:

Two more pairs of jeans
3 light sweaters
2 t-shirts

Since this woman's daughter is done growing this will probably be the last time we'll be able to take clothes from her - to bad we didn't talk about clothes sooner =:)

Blueberry Muffins

Below is the recipe for our favorite blueberry muffins. I went to a Taste of Home cooking show this year and this was one of the items they made. They are a family favorite so I try to bake a couple dozen at a time and get a least a few of them in the freezer for breakfast.

Blueberry Muffins - Taste of Home
2 cups Bisquick
3/4 cup suger plus 2 tablespoons set aside for later
8 oz (1cup) sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup blueberries

Mix the sour cream with the eggs. Add to the Bisqick and suger stirring until blended (this is a very thick batter) Fold in blueberries (if using frozen DO NOT thaw first). Drop batter into muffin tins and top with remaining suger. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Freezer Cooking

It's a Saturday morning and I actually have some time to myself. The husband is at the gym, my son is at work and my daughter is at a sleepover. I've brought my laptop home from work and I've gotten some work done (not enough but I feel a little better) and now I'm wondering what I should do with my couple of hours. Should I clean (we're going out with another couple tonight and their daughter is spending the evening with our daugher), prepare freezer food or just relax?

You guessed it, I have trouble relaxing so I think I'm going to do some food prep. The freezer in the garage is filled with apple slices, blueberries, cranberries, zucchini, tomatoes, rhubarb and strawberries. Here's my plan for the day:

Cranberry relish (grandma's recipe that I'll publish later)
Homemade applesauce
Blueberry muffins
Zucchini muffins
Rhubarb squares

A little aggressive since I only have about two hours but we'll see how much I can get done.

I did manage to get do the following cooked but not divied up yet due to additional cooling or marinading that needs to be done:

  • Cranberry relish (enough to fill a That's a Bowl from Tupperware)
  • Homemade applesauce (a large pot filled almost to the top - created quite a mess on my stove)
  • Apple slices (I know it wasn't on the original list but my husband has been begging for them so I thought that would be better than rhubarb squares)

Mike got home from the gym before I could do the blueberry muffins so I needed to get ready to do our Saturday grocery shopping together. I may try to squeeze the muffins in yet this afternoon when I bake some cookies for the girls this evening. I'll let you know!