Four Working Mom Gripes (Part 1)

I went back to work to a dream job opportunity when E was 11 months old. I was blessed that I had 11 months with him at home and am grateful for the opportunity and the friendships I made during that time – friendships that I have today, even if they are tougher to maintain thanks to work and where we bought our house. But the transition from stay at home mom to working mom was…not an easy one. 

working mom

 

As a working mom, there are a few things that bother me (I could say us, but I’m not speaking collectively for all working moms) – the lack of maternity leave in the US (DUH), employers who aren’t flexible with schedules and/or think that children are a huge burden, and summer vacations to name a few. I digress, I see things on facebook that just never cease to annoy the crap out of me and not gonna lie, make me feel a little less than as a working parent. Here are five things I see most frequently that take the cake in terms of anti-working mama. 

Workout classes after 8a or before 430p

This is not just true as a working mom – as any working adult with a commute of longer than 10 minutes who works between the hours of 8 am – 6 pm – workout classes at 830 am are not geared towards anyone with a job. It irks me that gyms cater to the “stay at home crowd” because,  well, I like workout classes too and the only one pre-8 am class is a spinning class at 6 am and even then, I have to hustle to make it to my office by 8a thanks to a crappy 40 minute (most days) commute. I know it’s demand based and varies gym by gym (some gyms are better about 530a classes, others not so much) but still, I’d love to see more 5:30a classes, or classes later in the evenings (I’ve recently found a 7:30 pm yoga class on Fridays that has become my new favorite thing.). No, i’m not saying my SAHM counter-parts don’t deserve to workout too – just more time variety is all I’m asking here. When there’s only 5 people in the 6a Monday spin class (more likely an indicator of the instructor…who was terrible) you’ve gotta wonder if the times you’re offering are really working for the pre-school drop off crowd. 

Workout classes for moms. But only stay at home moms.

Listen, I get it: Stay at home parents need to socialize and they need to workout. I loved Stroller Strides as a workout when I was home with E. Granted, I thought some of the moms were a little cliquey, but the mission of Stroller Strides is a fantastic one and it’s been fantastic to see the chapters near me take off since I stopped participating back in late 2013. However, unless you can pay an obscene amount for their “Body Back” program, don’t expect to reap any of those benefits of that specific to mom workout program. Classes are usually held during working hours and rarely can you find a class on the weekends (some chapters have Saturday am classes and bless those Saturday morning Body Boost classes….that I have yet to try out but keep meaning to). I’ve been interested in trying Stroller Barre since I was at home with little dude and fuck if it finally came to the Annapolis and Severn Stroller Strides groups, and of course the classes are on Tuesday and Thursday mornings respectively at like 9 am. Guess working moms are just not their target demographic.

Stroller strides isn’t the only one who is a little neglectful of the working mama crowd, the “Goddess Yoga” class at my local yoga studio – geared towards women, and pregnant women – is at 3:30pm…during the week. Who in the eff can hit up an hour long class during that time?! I mean if you don’t work, you probably have kiddos (this studio does not have child care) and if they’re school aged….you’re probably picking them up soooo…yeah. Who can actually hit up a yoga class at that time on a weekday – because I want to do whatever it is that allows you to have a schedule where you can fit in 3pm yoga classes. #justsaying

Child care at gyms or yoga studios only on weekday mornings…not on weekends

I want to start by noting that our gym has childcare on Saturday AM but not Sunday AM – on Sunday’s  it’s 1-430 on Sundays which…is naptime in our house. We don’t use the gym daycare often – usually only when Hubs is gone for drill, but the part that inspired this was an audacious post in a Facebook group. One mom was looking for a yoga studio with childcare because she had a demanding full-time job and wanted some de-stressing – duh.

Some of the comments made me wonder if they had read her full post and the third comment, well – if someone states “demanding job” in the original post, my guess is that their job is ALWAYS on M/W/Friday. #justsaying. Another yoga studio I frequented when we lived in Annapolis had childcare that was also only weekday mornings which really just bugged the shit out of me because well, working mamas want to yoga too.

Playdates only during weekdays – no evenings or weekends because “family time”

I’m grateful that the mix of mama friends I have are open to weekend playdates. We’ve had family playdates with friends where the adults hang out with some adult beverages and good food, we’ve had playdates on drill weekends at parks, friends houses and weekend lunchtime dates. I don’t rely on playdates on every weekend because hubs likes – similar to my stay at home mama pals who don’t see their partners for 40+ hours per week – for them to be family time, but he’s never stopped me from planning or going to an occasional play date on a weekend for a couple hours so little dude and I can have some socializing time. Mostly though, I really take advantage of Drill weekends to get friend time in for Little Man and I.

Anytime anyone says they could “never leave their child to be raised by someone else” as a response to a post about whether someone should go back to work or not. 

This has been said to me on more than one occasion – and I get that. I do. But here are the two things that people who either stay at home with their kiddos currently or formerly stayed at home with their kiddos….it’s not financially feasible for many families to live on only one income, and two, not every mother WANTS to stay at home with their kids. I didn’t major in early childhood development – I struggled greatly with what I now think was undiagnosed PPD, staying at home for me left me feeling inadequate, isolated and unhappy with myself. It’s best for our family for me to work and I think I’m a better mother because of it – I want my child to see me work hard and have pride in what I do every day and what I bring to our family. It’s not for everyone and I get that – it’s the whole choice thing – you do you. I do me. Mutual respect, right?

I know some of these are…a little petty but let’s be equal opportunity here – working mamas like to hit up the gym too (though most of us struggle with it) and we like play dates and meeting other moms – working or not.

What parenting gripe do you have?

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Girls Night Out in Annapolis with the Loews Annapolis Hotel

Last week I was invited to a night at the Loews Annapolis to have a holiday night out. It was Midnight Madness in downtown Annapolis and the perfect excuse to have a fun, festive, casual night out. I’ve been to many events at the Loew’s and it’s definitely a favorite venue of mine – from the Junior League of Annapolis Galas to the Zooma Expo, they always put on a fantastic event. The staff is always super friendly and the rooms are beautiful with local-inspired decor. If you ever need a place to stay in ‘Naptown, I highly recommend.

I’ve been to many events at the Loew’s and it’s definitely a favorite venue of mine – from the Junior League of Annapolis Galas to the Zooma Expo, they always put on a fantastic event. The staff is always super friendly and the rooms are beautiful with local-inspired decor. If you ever need a place to stay in ‘Naptown, I highly recommend.

The evening/afternoon started with Glam Sessions – I got my hair curled (of which I am now obsessed with but haven’t quite figured out how to replicate it). They also had makeup (mainly eyes with some false lashes!) and nails that you could get done as well. I did my own makeup though my nails look like garbage but I replied late so was only able to score a hair appointment.

GNO with Loews Annapolis

I left shortly after my hair was done to get changed into my cozy, festive casual outfit for the evening – ready to hit the town. (As much as a 30 something working mom can and wants to hit the town…)

holiday casual outfit

{Pants | Sweater (old, similar) | Plaid Shirt | Necklace | Shoes (old, similar)}

Prior to heading out to Midnight Madness, we started with cocktails and appetizers at Baroak – Teddy Folkman’s restaurant in Annapolis – which is DELICIOUS. We had mussels, flatbread pizza and some charcuterie on the appetizer side…

Baroak annapolis cocktails

…and some (delicious) specialty cocktails – a white sangria with cranberries and a white rum punch (that I did not try but heard delicious things about!). They have an exceptional menu (mussels and frites anyone?!) and the beer menu isn’t terrible either. If you have not been, I highly recommend.

After cocktail hour, I headed downtown with Liz to check out a couple of the shops, snowflake alley and meet up with some other Naptown pals of hers. We ended up at Dry 85 and had a couple of drinks before Ubering back to the hotel because holy crap was it FRIGID to walk the four or five blocks back (even though we walked down there).

The night ended back in the Presidential suite at the Loew’s with gift wrapping. I got the couple of gifts that I picked up wrapped, I’m a good wrapper generally, but this lady was AMAZING. I’ve got enough to wrap at home, so it was nice having a couple to get wrapped fo’ freesies.

I was back in my room at a halfway decent hour and crashed watching HGTV. It was a really fun night for sure. Thanks to Loews Annapolis for hosting and for putting on such a fantastic evening.

FTC disclosure: I was provided an overnight stay, however, I was not compensated for my honest review. All opinions here are my own. 

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Thankful Thursday: One Year Later

It’s been one year.

One year later and I can still remember exactly what I was doing when I got that call – I had just pulled in to grab lunch before an afternoon of meetings. Knowing a trip to Vermont was imminent, I was trying to get client work in order before then, so I was planning a short lunch before a 1:30 internal meeting and a 3pm client call with one of my more…difficult clients.

As soon as I heard the words “She’s gone,” I skipped lunch. I drove back to my office crying as I called Hubs and collapsed in the arms of coworkers who knew this was imminent. The next few days were a blur. A long evening drive with hubs and Little Man. So many phone calls. So many hugs and more tears than I ever knew was possible.

How does it feel like just yesterday when I was laying on the couch in the house where you raised my dad, my aunts and uncle and so many of your grandchildren, chatting with you, learning more about your life, sipping on late night Miller Light and watching bad television? It wasn’t yesterday though, it was nearly a decade ago. Nearly ten years from when I’d hear country music waking me up as you and Papa would read the paper. Ten years from spending summer afternoons following you around the garden asking you all of the questions about your plants, helping you pick green beans, or water your beloved roses.

In that decade, we all watched the worst disease slowly take over your memory. The first time I really noticed it was a November trip to Vermont at my dad’s – you kept asking the same question over and over and over again. No one would say the A word, but we all knew. That was 2011 when Adam was at Basic training in Oklahoma.

Cousins will say that you knew us all along, even after you couldn’t remember our names, but that being in the presence of your family made you smile until your dying day.

Our last conversation – though one-sided – is burned in my mind, we face timed thanks to K. I told you I loved you. That Ethan was getting so big and that I was so glad you met him. I was so afraid though, afraid to say how scared I was of a life without you in it. You were my rock through so much of my adolescence when I often felt alone and abandoned. You were the rock for many of us during those tough years – we all had them, and you stood by us all.

I’m so thankful that I had an incredible Nana. I’m so thankful that I have 32 years of amazing memories. That you met Little Man, that you were at Adam and I’s wedding, that you were able to celebrate my graduation from college even if you weren’t there – the first of your eleven grandchildren to graduate from college and I’m pretty sure we celebated over Malibu & diet and miller light – our favorite drinks at the time. How was 2006 so long ago?!

I’m so thankful that I told you I loved you. That even when you didn’t remember me back in June of last year, that I saw you, told you I loved you and hugged you. How was I to know that would be the last time? Traveling was just so expensive, and work was so demanding. I wish I had made one last trip even though seeing you like that broke me every time.

I’m thankful that your passing brought all of us together – it was the first time in years I had seen my cousins, the ones who shaped my childhood from all those weekends at camp, and during the summers I spent visiting you. Even though the years have taken us all down different paths, we all had you in common and on that chilly November night at your wake, we all hugged and remembered. Our grief bringing us all back together.

This holiday season, friends, be thankful for your families. Though we’re spending the holidays here at home, I am so thankful that last year we were able to spend thanksgiving with family, that little man was able to play with second cousins, and that I was able to spend time remembering our favorite Nana stories. I was/am so lucky that I have those to cherish.

I can’t believe it’s been a full year…

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Boo-ing our Neighbors

When we bought our home, the one piece of the puzzle I never felt I got that I really wanted was a close-knit neighborhood. As we’ve started getting involved in our neighborhood association, I’m finding they are pretty close. Our direct neighbors seem really nice, however, we haven’t really connected with them as much as I had hoped.

I was lucky to grow up with my three best friends all living within a house of me. I had a fantastic childhood (until my parents split up in 8th grade) thanks to so many fun memories with those friends. I always had friends to hang out with – there were summer camp outs, late night swims, someone to walk to school with, and someone to hang out with on our many snow days. It was all idyllic. So when we moved in and saw a kiddo around Ethan’s age wave at us with small hands through their front window, I got excited that he might have that too.

Needless to say, the family friendship is still in the works, but they work different hours than us so we’re always two ships passing in the night. BUT I decided to Boo them anyhow. It’s not even a thing in our ‘hood but i’m going to make it so.

boo basket

What I included: 

My favorite pumpkin beer for the adults
-Halloween cocktail napkins
-Fun glow sticks for trick or treating
-A autumny candle
-Halloween sticker book
-Gummy worms
-some chocolate peanut butter cups
-Some Halloween utz cheddar balls
-Fun halloween socks
-A printed “You’ve been boo’ed” sign with instructions to pay it forward (maybe they’ll boo us?!) 

I picked up everything at Target in the Halloween section and the dollar spot and spent about $10-15 on each of the baskets I made. I really hope they enjoyed it!

Have you ever boo’ed your neighbors or been boo’ed?

Boo

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Ethan’s First KidBox – A review

One day vis a vie email, a pal of mine and I thought “we should start a kid subscription box.” We were ranting about Stitch Fix boxes gone woefully wrong, contemplating whether to sign up our husbands for the mens box and wishing there was something similar for kids. Then I found KidBox.

kidbox

With KidBox, it’s free to sign up, and you only pay for what you buy. Certainly not too shabby of a deal to start.

A couple of weeks after I signed up and filled out our style profile, I got my box with six pieces all curated for Little Man based on what I put in his mini style-profile. The box itself was super fun to open with lots of colors, and some stickers for little man to play with.

But once I saw the pieces, to say it was a huge bummer would be an understatement.

Similar to Stitch Fix, you fill out a style profile that asks about your child’s style. I compared my child’s style to the Gap and JCrew – classic, comfy and preppy – and received joggers and a bomber jacket? Something feels like it’s not connected. But, then this seems like a new program and maybe their selection is limited.

The pieces (L to R, Top to Bottom) 

Le Top Sports Jersey $21 (originally $42)
Le Top Woven Plaid Shirt $24 (originally $48)
Le Top French Terry Varsity Jacket $35 (originally $60)
LRG Stylent Jean $24 (originally $36)
Reebok Tod Mesh Jogger $24 (originally $30)
Penguin Twill Pant $20 (originally $38)

So the pieces, while all were really nice quality, they weren’t so much nicer than our usual Carters/Baby Gap/Old Navy that I was willing to pay Boden-like prices ($24 for a plaid shirt!?! LOLOLOL). Not to mention, little man is a little prepster like his daddy. Not a…well, I don’t even know what type of style that all is.

But, given that there were 7 days (pro!) to try the stuff out, no charge (unlike stitch fix! SUPER PRO! No obligation FTW!)  except for what you keep, I felt okay trying it out and, I’ll probably try it again in the spring just to see what we get. It’s fun to get mail like this and the pros certainly don’t hurt.

Feel free to try it (it’s free!) AND if you use my referral link, you get $25 towards your first purchase! Win win right?

 

Have you tried a subscription box for your kiddos? What was your experience like? 

 

 

{disclosure: all opinions here are mine and mine alone. I did not receive compensation nor did I work with KidBox in exchange for any compensation or product.}

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Fall Bucket List 2016

Happy fall my friends! I had a slue of blog posts that I was supposed to/wanted to write – I’m a bit behind but it’s been a busy/emotional week and I’m mourning the end of my triathlon season with a DNS. But I had to write about my fall bucket list – or as hubs would prefer I call it, our Fall Family Fun List. I like the bucket list term better.

So despite the fact that this probably should have gone up yesterday and the fact that it’s 85 degrees here in Maryland today…. here’s my fall bucket list.

 

fall bucket list

Apple picking

Make a fall wreath
(i have my goodies! Just need time to do it…)

Decorate my mantle for Fall.
(i.e.purchase new fall candles!) 

Make chocolate pumpkin bread

Carve pumpkins

Get Fall family photos taken
(probably in November…)

Go to a fall festival
(Kinder Farm Park Fall Fest – Oct 8, 2016) 

Visit and take pictures at a pumpkin patch

Decorate our front porch (mums! Pumpkins!) 

Write a blog post about all of these

Happy Fall my friends!  What’s on your Fall Fun list?

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Seven.

Ten years ago I met a dude. It was a hot, humid evening on Capitol Hill. A mutual friend had invited us both to dinner. We dominated the conversation. Immediately hitting it off. It took me about 6 weeks, to see what was in front of me, but little did I know, that this dude, with gentle eyes, the cheeky smile, who could talk for hours about anything and everything, would change my life forever.

wedding(us circa 2006 – a month or so after we started dating. Taken nearly ten years ago.) 

Three years later we were married on a humid September afternoon surrounded by our amazing friends and family. It was the most perfect day. Everything I imagined my wedding would be.

wedding

But alas, marriage isn’t always easy. It’s not always pretty flowers and the most beautiful dress you’ll ever wear in your lifetime. There are lessons to be learned – it is, after all, a partnership, more so once a kiddo is in the picture. It’s a choice you make every day…to show up, to not be selfish, to play fair and to always be on the same team.

Seven lessons I’ve learned over the past seven years

  1. Communication is always key.
    Talking. Telling him/her what you need. What’s bothering you. If you don’t talk, they don’t know.
  2. Know the other’s person’s love language.
    We went to a “Strong bonds” retreat through the army earlier this summer and it was on love languages – it’s a powerful book and I highly recommend if you’ve never checked it out.
  3. Make each other laugh.
    We don’t take ourselves too seriously (most of the time), we’re not afraid to laugh at ourselves, and we both have the same (sometimes dry) sense of humor (akin to puns. I love all things punny).
  4. Their family is your family too. And vice versa. Embrace them.
    I’m very lucky to have married into a fantastic family; my in-laws have embraced me as one of their own. I’ve heard some wild stories in the mom’s group of about crazy, manipulative in-laws – and I’m so blessed that my in-laws are on the quirky (but well intentioned) side, not the drive-you-crazy and treat you like garbage side.
  5. Sometimes you have to put the other person first.
    Hubs and I are really good about knowing when to put the other person’s needs first and our own needs second. Likewise, we’re really great about communicating what our needs are.
  6. Listen.
    Many of the qualms in our marriage have come from one of us not listening. Listen – and even if the other person isn’t talking, pay attention to what they’re NOT saying.
  7. Make time for each other.
    Turn off your phone. Turn off the tv. Can’t get a babysitter? Open up a bottle of wine and sit with each other. Give each other feet massages and just be together. Read a book together. Go to bed early. But make time for you.

Happy seven years love of my life. To all of these lessons and many more in the years ahead.

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Summer bucket list

Each summer, I get wistful about making it the BEST. SUMMER. EVER. Filled with beachy weekends, tons of outdoor hosting at our house – you know…summery things.

Most of the time I fail, because well, life. But sometimes, we get a big fat win – like last year when we spent a couple of weekend days at the beach (though our anniversary trip was a rain out which was a bummer), or the summer I was pregnant with Ethan we got to go to Ocean City with one of my best gal pals and we finally (nearly 10 years later) made it to Seacrets.

So this year, we kept our bucket list short – I’m up in Vermont for a bridal shower this weekend, Adam’s National  Guard training is taking him out of the country for 2 weeks at the end of July, and then my sisters wedding the weekend after he gets back…our summer is already half filled. But what we put on here should all be fun, small ways to make the most of the rest of our summer.

summer bucket list

Go to an outdoor concert

There are so many free concert series around us in Annapolis or Crofton – even in Baltimore, how can we not make it out once to listen to some live tunes?! Definitely need to pencil that in once or twice this summer. The Friday night series in Annapolis is one of my usual go-to’s and they do the same thing in Crofton on Saturday nights. 

Visit a splash pad

My dear friend Lexi recently turned me onto a splash pad in Ellicott City which isn’t super far from us that I would love to check it out with Little Man 🙂 In addition to this one just west of us, there are apparently a handful of others fun water parks and splash pads in the greater Annapolis/Baltimore area. 

 

Go to the beach

Each year, we try to make it out to the beach once or twice – usually for day trips. This year, we’re heading out to Dewey in September for my triathlon but I’d love to get out there once before the end of the season.

Visit four new ice cream places on the MD ice cream trail

Though none of these are super close to us (1 – 2 hours away) i think we can do some fun exploring and really come down on the debate of who has better creemee’s – Maryland or Vermont (Ima go with the 802 on this one friends but please let me know if you beg to differ).

Have a date night at the Annapolis “Dinner Under the Stars” 

They are apparently closing off a portion of West Street for some dining al fresco – I love eating outdoors and since this is going on until October, I’m sure Hubs and I can find a Wednesday night to get a sitter and have a fun date night.

Go hiking

A few years ago, pre-baby, we hiked up Old Rag in Virginia. I miss hiking, it was something I did somewhat regularly when I was in Vermont. While Little Man won’t be scaling stone walls or going up rock scrambles like Old Rag any time soon, I’d love to check out some of the family friendly hikes in the area like Calvert Cliffs, Patapsco State Park or Gunpowder Falls to do some hiking as a family.

What is on your summer bucket list friends?

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A Tribute

I had all of these amazing things I wanted to write about. I have running goals, and I was prepared to talk about the amazing experience I had mentoring my fantastic 10k group. I was ready to run a PR for my last race of the season. I was co-hosting a sprinkle for one of my dearest friends in DC this weekend and was ready to spend Thanksgiving with the same close friends at their new, beautiful home.

But life has a funny way of throwing a wrench into even the best of plans.

My grandmother had been suffering Alzheimers for the better part of the past four – five years. Among many other things. Late last week, she took a serious turn for the worse.

I was unable to make it to Vermont this past weekend (life, two year old, money…you name it), and Tuesday over lunch, as I was about to get out of my car to run in to grab food, my cousin called and told me simply, choking out tears, “she’s gone.”

My heart shattered. I felt crushed. I knew this was coming but nothing prepared me for the realization that I would never give her a big hug, or hear her laugh or see her smile. I don’t think anything can prepare you for losing a loved one – no matter how long they’ve been sick.

Nana, you are forever loved. You will be forever missed. All of the lessons I learned from you from cooking, cleaning, canning and dancing..etc… etc…I will hold dearly and pass on to my own children. I am blessed to have known you and for having had the best Nana I could have asked for for 32 years of my life. You were a cheerleader – standing out in inclement weather to cheer all of your grandchildren on through sports – hockey, football, track and field and sitting through hours of concerts, recitals and plays. You nursed us to health – sitting with us on our sick beds in hospitals, while we were laid up on your sofa, and you let us take over your bed when we were ill. You stood up for us – even to strangers. You were proud, you never held grudges (even when you could have), you loved all of us – your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren – unconditionally – even when we didn’t always deserve it.

And we did that for you. Above all other lessons, you taught us the meaning of love and family.

I couldn’t be with you in your final weeks/days, but I prayed for you. Hearing one of your favorite communion songs, one that you once told me reminded you of Great Grandma (your mother) broke me down in church just this past Sunday. As if we all knew, that any day you would leave us behind.

I know you’re looking over me Nana. Give me strength; give all of us strength because our lives will never be the same without you in it. I love you and I will always love you.

Rest peacefully Nana.

pooh

(image source)

My pseudo-regular blogging will return from somewhere up north next week. To those of you stopping in from the Blog-Hop – thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I promise to return all comments in the coming days and I have loved swinging by ALL of your blogs – even if I didn’t comment (most I did!). 

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Six

Nine years ago, you wooed me over the course of a weekend long “date.” You twirled me around under the rotunda on a late night tour of the Capitol.

october2006

(Blurry because…it was all such a blur. Wasn’t it?)

Six years ago, we said I do and vowed to love each other in good times and bad.

DC wedding photo

Two and a half years ago, we grew our family and welcomed this little guy into our lives. It was as if my capacity for love doubled in a way I couldn’t have imagined.

We’ve been through some ups and some downs but no matter what, you and I are a team. Thank you for being my biggest supporter, cheerleader (those 7a races are brutal!), my best friend and the love of my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to spend the rest of my days with.

I love you Hubs. To many more years and adventures and everything in between.

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