Traveling for Business - a how-to-guide for moms who are new to it

From a work standpoint, I am well into gear for fourth quarter. It is a challenge akin to preparing for the homecoming game. You have your strategy well in hand and are navigating last minute interference while keeping end of quarter performance goals in sight. For me that means a bit more travel. Most working moms (including myself) don’t particularly enjoy traveling on business - especially while your children are young.
photo credit: http://pinterest.com/pin/204231759/

As an example, I recall the plight of a breastfeeding colleague whose stored milk leaked all over a fellow passenger’s carry on. She was embarrassed but mostly upset to lose two days worth of pumped breast milk. Luckily she laughs about it today. Personally, I tried to really cut down on business travel when the enormous, seismic pull of a helpless infant and/or toddler existed. Once your children are more self-sufficient, however, things do get a lot easier.

Here are my two truths to share regarding successful business trips for working moms:
  1. You will be too busy on these trips to experience more than a tolerable amount of guilt. Sounds crazy but it's true for me. The week or two beforehand is really the worst of it. Once you are engaged in the purpose of your trip, your focus is pretty much tied up. To get to this place requires a bit of preparation – which I’ll share below.
  2. As much as you might think your child(ren) are pining in heartbreak without you...they are not.
They are enjoying forbidden Burger King with Dad. They are wheedling him into breaking rules and they are successful at it. They are jumping on the couch in wrestling battles and watching too much television. They are playing computer games with animated zombies that drive monster trucks over unsuspecting pedestrians. They are playing Wii after bedtime on a school night and your floors will acquire mysterious stains that no one knows anything about.
photo credit: http://pinterest.com/pin/229003348/
The man you married, who agreed that children without boundaries are a result of bad parenting, will drive him two towns over to buy out of season FIREWORKS. When you call to check in, they will give you the bum’s rush in order to get back to their next adventure. As much as we mothers are the glue that hold our families and civilization in check, it's fun for them to be barbarians once in a while. Not that I would tell them this. The truth is - great fathers pretty much rule. They hide the bad stuff from you until you get home.

The weeks before are my guilty weeks so I distract myself with preparations. Here is what I do:
  1. Spend a Sunday making and freezing meals such as lasagna, meatloaf and chicken Marsala, which they will never eat because they are eating out every night.
  2. Create lots of sweet or funny notes and hide them in sock drawers and shoes. Ask husband to place a note each day in your child’s snack or lunch box. You will find these later in the bottom of his backpack.
  3. Create a video of you reading a chapter or two from the current bedtime book. This will never be seen because of all the Wii time he is getting in.
  4. Select and hang up school clothes for the week after checking the extended weather forecast. Pin signs with days of the week on each set so that he wears the right shoes for gym and has a jacket on the chillier day.
  5. E-mail or speak with his teachers so that they are prepared that your child might be sad at school on those days and need a little extra TLC. He won’t need the TLC but he will certainly milk it if necessary (aka gets a reminder about talking too much during circle time).
  6. Buy little presents and ask the hubby to go on a clue hunt to find one each night. This one is really for the second half of an extended trip and is purely motivated by guilt and an egotistical need to still be remembered as a fun parent, although out of sight. This will backfire on you as Daddy will get the credit and he will take the credit without any of that regrettable guilt that you felt in the first place.
  7. Before leaving, really talk up the airport gift you will be bringing home for him.
  8. When packing for the trip, remember to include one “something” that belongs to him but that he can live without. A discarded baby blanket or a stuffed bear. Take pictures of this “something” in your hotel room or other location to e-mail an adventure story about. Make sure your Itouch or IPad is stocked with your favorite family photos, music, movie and an app that allows you to connect virtually - such as Skype. Sleep with the bear at night. Ditto for your husband’s t-shirt.
These steps are mostly completed in the pre-trip haze of guilt. Again, once you are on the way to the airport your focus will shift and it will be an amazing miracle when it happens. Knowing your family is able to exist (yet never wants to) without you is oddly comforting.

And trust me. As difficult and lonely as it may seem to be, sitting in a hotel room at the end of a long day (and thousands of miles away from your beloved family) not hearing someone call your name fifty times in a row or ask for the remote control the moment it hits your hand - just may rank up there with a spa day.
The thing about leaving is that there is a wonderful reunion. Lots of laundry – but a very happy family waiting for you to return.

Ahhh...Fall!


Fall is officially here. This time of year I can still smell pencil shavings and hear the crunch of leaves from school days past. Our son is happily settled into his own new school routine and all is well.


This weekend we will be opening up the fall d├ęcor boxes and switching things up a bit – we may even go a little crazy and bring out a few early Halloween things.

 

Despite the well publicized pumpkin shortage here on the Eastern seaboard
I am happy to report that I found both canned and fresh pumpkins at our local Whole Foods. Yea!

Pancakes!

I've gotten several requests for the pancake recipe I use. I have several and it really depends on whether I have fresh buttermilk in the fridge at the time. I only buy it for this recipe so I suppose it really depends on whether we add it to the grocery list. I am a big fan of online recipe sites yet find a reliable source to be the magnificent Martha Stewart. Say what you will, the lady has some very good core recipes.


You can grab the original link here:

http://www.marthastewart.com/318689/best-buttermilk-pancakes

I make adjustments to this recipe from time to time but my three main changes are that I use whole grain flour mixed with millet flour, I always add freshly grated organic lemon zest and I cook with organic coconut oil (I like the one from Spectrum for medium to high heat - tip from a brilliant friend).


I know it sounds like a big deal but it takes me less than ten minutes to throw all the ingredients together and get the first batch on. My dad and mother-in-law love the ready mixes - many people do but once you've converted to the real deal it is hard to settle for anything less. Everyone LOVES these pancakes! Will post my alternative pancake recipes later. Enjoy!

-------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE:
As promised last month, here is my alternative pancake recipe.
Pancake Recipe # 2:
Add 2.5 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 and 1/4 cup of 2% milk and let stand
In separate bowl add:
1.5 cups of flour ( I use two kinds)
2 tbs of organic cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3 tbs butter melted
Mix the dry ingredients together, mix the wet ingredients with the milk mixture and then combine.


Will I have a mustache one day?

We are getting a lot of chuckles from observed moments lately.

Boys are hunched over in my living room over an Itunes app of the 'magic eight ball'.  The app waits for the question then answers in a male voice that's supposed to be a mystical fortune teller.

Boy 1: "Will I have a mustache one day?"
(What? Since when has he thought about facial hair?)

Magic Eight Ball: "It looks doubtful."

Boy 1: "Ahh, man."

moment of disappointed silent

Boy 2: "Yeah. That's too bad."

Childhood's Journey

Every moment of childhood is special. At times you see him putting things together
and working out the puzzles of the universe and it's humbling to witness and share these early days of another person's journey.


Every perspective is built upon fresh experiences and his own unique compass. I often wonder what he is thinking and am so grateful that he is still of an age to tell me. That he wakes up eager to share his dreams. I hope it will always be like this. Someday he will be a teenager, more guarded in his independence. There are no absolutes and motherhood means letting go as much as it does holding on. Easy to say when I have not had to experience that sting in any significant way yet.
So I'll remind myself that it is not about me. It's about him. Childhood's journey is a joyful, lonely, happy, frustrating and wondrous time. My best wish for him is that he loves the journey as much as the destination.

The Small Things

As busy as life can get, I do love the small things. A good book that keeps you up all night. A song that lifts you out of your worries. A really good conversation with a soulful friend. The polished swing of a new blow out at the hair salon, an amazing cup of coffee, laughing with loved ones. A cup of tea from a pretty teapot at the end of a long day.


My husband handing me a glass of wine as he smiles at me with my favorite smile. Sitting down to a great meal I did not have to cook. Feeling my son kiss my arm as he passes by without saying a word. One realizes that the small things outweigh the big things by a ton.

The Original Supermoms


My sincerest gratitude to all the mothers in history who cared for their families without electricity and modern conveniences. That are still doing so in parts of the world today. Although our experience during Hurricane Irene lasted only 2 ½ days (felt like two years), it made me appreciate what I take for granted. Perhaps even how spoiled I am. My great, great grandmother and the lovely ladies before her had to do without vacuums, hot running water, crisp lighting, refrigerators, cooking appliances, mixers, telephones, computer and internet. Without television, Wii or I-anything.

It also helped me understand why children behaved less entitled in the “old days”.

What sane child would complain about bath time when he had to carry five buckets of water up a hill and watch his mother boil it over a fire? Bedtimes must have been a bit easier as well when nighttime meant no natural (or artificial) light to keep you active and interested in television or a computer. We read through four of the Little House on the Prairie books last winter and our recent experiences caused us to reflect on Ms. Wilder’s memories of laying in the prairie grass, helping Pa build a fireplace chimney or washing the dishes for Ma.

During one of these discussions, Monkey asked aloud one night why anyone would want to “live like that” (he was a bit grumpy at being forced to brush his teeth from a paper cup). It made me sad that he would automatically see a lack of running water and electric lights as a tragedy.

I now have more insight into why children were thrust outdoors more. Not only to help with chores during precious daylight hours, but to give their mothers some peace and quiet to do their own labors. My mother used to literally lock us out of the hours in the summer months, placing a pitcher of iced Kool-Aid or lemonade on the front porch with cups while she cleaned without us underfoot. It was a learned tactic handed down from mother to mother when children could not be enticed to sit like zombies watching Scooby Doo or the Backyardigans.

My own grandmother was a world class genius at keeping us entertained. Her mother, my granny, was as well. We would pick wild berries and make a paste from them to paint rocks with sticks. We tied thread to the leg of a June Bug and flew it as a kite, taking care to set it free without removing its limb. We made mud pies and washed our feet beneath an old fashioned water pump that splashed us in the summer heat. We learned to sew stitches, pick strawberries for jam and snap green beans. We cranked the handle on an ancient ice cream maker and picked warm eggs from beneath cranky hens. It was magic and her patience was infinite. It is funny how I do not recall the thousands of hours I have spent in my lifetime watching television yet I can recall these memories with magnified clarity.

Flash forward to this past weekend. For two days we played every board game in our house, even resorting to using scrabble tiles as dominos (to see them knock one another over in fantastic structures) one evening by candlelight. As the house grew dark we were always together. Never separated by rooms and different activities. Boiling water on the grill for tea was a special ritual.

As glad as I am to see the return of electricity, I see it differently now. More as a want than a necessity (with the exception of indoor plumbing, which I still see as non-negotiable). Even in the days following our adventure, we are finding ourselves gravitating to the same room in the evening, content in reading Harry Potter aloud, playing a round of Skipbo or preparing for bedtime all together. I can see all sides of the affect that modern conveniences has had on modern families. It makes me admire the women before me even more than I did before. It took so much effort to keep your home and family clean, fed, entertained and on track without electric outlets and washing machines. It inspires me to continue to share my beloved Grandmother’s lessons with my own child and future grandchildren. As much as we talk about “supermoms” today, they were nothing compared to the super moms back then. I am humbled and I thank them all.