January 2015 - Baby Steps in High Heels

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On the road again ...

4:39 PM 8
On the road again ...
Yesterday was the first day of my spring sales season.

I left my wallet on the front seat of my car. Wide open, showing cash and credit cards.

Today I wore a black jacket with a navy dress.

And none of my sales tools arrived before I left for the week.

I always expect the first few days back to be hectic, but I'm hoping the chaos dwindles soon.

On the other hand, it is sunny and almost 80 degrees here in Texas.

I really can't complain.

But I do hope I can at least manage to match my clothes tomorrow!

Happy Tuesday, y'all!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Coffee Crisis

7:34 AM 26
Coffee Crisis
I haven’t quite figured out how all the affiliate programs and links work just yet, so I feel like I have to hold back from naming specific products/brands … but I can’t hold back any more on a most pressing matter in my life ...

I need to talk to y’all about coffee.



Specifically, about coffee makers.

My single-cup brewer is getting on my last nerve. It will brew a perfect cup at 9:00 AM when  I am already awake and going, but at 5:30?

Nope.

It’s a half cup. Or a burned cup. Or the water basin won’t transfer correctly.

Let’s just say, we might be at the end of the road with this relationship.

The problem is: I have no idea what to replace it with! 

There are so many products out there. You can read a dozen reviews per product, and they all give the same mixture of feedback ranging from awesome to awful.

I am lost. And a little caffeine deprived.

So, maybe this isn't exactly a crisis, but I feel like we're quickly heading in that direction.

The only thing I know for sure is that this momma needs a programmable coffee maker that will wake up before I do and greet my unopened eyes with the blissful aroma of hot, delicious coffee.

THAT is the kind of relationship I am looking for ...

Any suggestions? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why Mom’s Business Travel is Good for the Family

9:30 AM 18
Why Mom’s Business Travel is Good for the Family
As I gear up for my next sales season that requires weekly travel for several months, I am going over a million check lists in my head. Although everything is pretty routine for us at this point, we still try to plan for every detail in order to stay organized.

I make a calendar with personal events listed first, then plan work trips around those dates.

I do some light meal planning, including stocking the pantry with staples so we do not unexpectedly run out of necessities.

And, the true key to survival is doing as much prep work each Sunday as we can. We pack lunches and do laundry and make sure we are aware of any appointments or meetings.

This is how we survive and maintain some semblance of sanity, but it can be incredibly hectic, too. It often has me questioning if my heavy travel schedule is too much of a burden for our family. Although I’m sure the time will come when we have to truly weigh the advantages and disadvantages, for now, it mostly works well for us.

And there are also some really nice benefits to my being a working, traveling mom …


Recharge time. If you can move past the guilt of being gone (which is tough, but necessary), business travel is a great time for moms to recharge themselves. I mentioned last week that I was able to read an entire book and didn’t have to do any dishes for several days in a row. Embrace this! Enjoy it! Even if you don’t have a lot of down time during your travels, which I rarely do, it’s amazing how much you can accomplish in an hour here or an hour there when you’re not accountable to anyone else. Oh, and there’s this little thing called uninterrupted sleep. Need I say more?

Bonding time. I have said it before, and I will say it again … Husband is an amazing father to our kids. He has changed as many, if not more, diapers than I have over the years. He feeds, bathes, rocks, and does nighttime duty as much as any mother I know. He’s 100% involved, and his strong relationship with the kids really shows this well. But something different happens when I travel. They bond even more. I think it has something to do with how kids perceive fully relying on a parent. They find a deeper level of comfort and safety in this dependence. I love coming home to see their strengthened bond.

Planning makes perfect. Okay, maybe not perfect, but all that planning and preparing we do really pays off. Things run like clockwork, especially if I’m smart enough to prep for the whole week, not just the days when I will be away. We tend to slack off on the planning when I am not traveling, and it really shows. We’re less organized, more chaotic, and sometimes even a little grumpy because of it. Planning ahead really makes the week run more smoothly.

Communication is key. Husband and I are constantly talking about any number of things, whether it is appointments and meeting schedules or really checking in with how the kids are doing on a given day. We have to talk to each other, because we’re not there to let a raised eyebrow or shoulder shrug communicate for us. Nonverbal cues are nice, and can be a great indicator of a good relationship, but we’re still in the little years with our kids. We can occasionally become so overwhelmed with routines that we collapse on the couch at 9 pm without ever really having had a conversation. When we are not in the same place at the same time, we make greater efforts to communicate.

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. It may be cliché, but I have found it to be true. Especially, as I mentioned, when you are smack in the middle of raising small children, it is easy to get stuck in a rut. We rely on routine and consistency, because we know this is best for our children. But this can be hard on adults. When I return from a trip, hugs are tighter, laughs are louder, story time is longer. After the kids are in bed, Husband and I spend more time talking. We turn the TV on a little later. We aren’t so ready to zone out the second we have the chance. We’ve all missed each other, and we enjoy catching up.

Traveling is not for everyone; I get it. Heck, there are times when I don’t even think it is right for me, but it is our reality. And, over the years, I have come to appreciate some of the benefits of being a working mom who travels. I encourage you to do the same … appreciate the good in your situation. If you need to be away for work or even a fun getaway, enjoy it.


Trust me, I was doing dishes eleven minutes after I returned home last week. Your family will miss you, but you will not miss a beat returning to normal either. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sales Meeting Recap

10:23 AM 2
Sales Meeting Recap
What a week, y’all! My sales meeting was great … fast-paced, informative, and fun.

Today I feel a little like I’m back in the newborn baby fog, though, because we were always ‘on’ from 7:00 am until midnight (or later!). With almost every waking minute schedule for us, we worked through every meal, had 2 minute bathroom breaks, and took in more information in 4 days than most kids do in an entire semester.

So, for today, I’ll just do a little recap on the week …

-Business travel can be hard on a family. All the planning and coordinating can really be stressful, but the travel can also be beneficial. I’m working on a larger post around this topic for you in the coming weeks, but I’ll give you a hint: I read an entire book, plus half of another. And I didn’t do dishes once in five days. That’s a big win for mommy sanity.

-I thought a lot about professional advancement this week. Spending several, intense days together with your colleagues can really get inside your head, and it’s hard to balance professional goals with personal, family priorities. It was a mixed bag for me this week, and I have a lot to consider … which means you’ll probably also be hearing from me about this in a future post.

-Our meeting had a ‘strike gold’ theme, so we had tons of those little gold chocolate coins throughout the week. Instead of a random airport gift, I brought these little treats home for the kids. Seriously, you’d think I had built an ice castle for Miss Mighty. Lesson learned: We don’t have to overdo it to make up for our absence. They just want to know we were thinking about them while we were away. Or they just really like candy.

-In the future, I need to remember to prepare clothes for after my sales meeting, and not just for the trip itself.  I literally packed 3 outfits per day this week Sunday-Thursday, but today I’m in a wrinkled sweater and jeans from the back of my closet … I forgot that I’d need to wear something other than pajamas when I returned!

-I tried; I really, really tried to keep up with my fitness priorities and my goal to MOVE in 2015. But hotels gyms vary tremendously, and the one I had this week was definitely more sketchy than most. Half of the equipment was out of order, and it was tiny. Plus, there were carbs. Glorious carbs. Laid out on tables, free for the taking. All. Day. Long. So, time to get back on track …

-I need a nap.


Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The hardest part about being a working mom ...

12:36 PM 9
The hardest part about being a working mom ...
There are times when I find myself feeling incredibly jealous of stay at home moms.

It’s probably not for the reasons you might think, though.

I am not a mom who fantasizes about quitting my job and staying home with my kids. Of course, I would love more time with them, but I like my job. I’m good at it. And I think I am personally a better mom for putting my skill set to use in the working world.

I am not a mom who hates the idea of day care and wishes I could be the only one to love, feed, raise, and nurture my children. I am really, truly of the ‘it takes a village’ mindset. Miss Mighty is such a social kid, and I am not good at playing princess dollhouse for hours on end.

I was never a teacher. I am not crafty. And I am absolutely a failure when it comes to putting anything Pinterest to practice. I love my kids with everything I am, but I am also pretty sure they’d be bored by 8:00 a.m. on Monday if it was up to me to set their agenda.

And yet, there are times that I do find myself feeling very envious of moms who stay at home with their children, because I sometimes find it difficult to justify the typical mom feelings I have.

This is the hardest part about being a working mom. I find myself longing to get to be ‘just a mom’ when my kids are sick or sad or just needing some extra one-on-one attention. These are the times when I wish that I wasn’t responsible to anyone other than my own family.

We working moms rely so heavily on a well-maintained schedule and calendars that everything really does run like clockwork. When a child shows signs of being sick, our whole balance is thrown off as we attempt to reschedule meetings to fit in a doctor’s appointment. We sigh as the only available appointment is right in the middle of nap time, knowing that our already under the weather kiddo will not sleep at all that day. We want to bury our heads in our hands as we realize that fever means no school for 24 hours. We stress about how we will still get all of our work done when we now have to take off the rest of today, but also tomorrow.

Those are the emotional motions we go through as working moms. But we also feel the regular mom stuff too: My poor baby is sick! I just want to hold him all day. Let him take a two hour nap in my arms. Be the first one he sees when he open his groggy little eyes. I want be the one who is there for him, holding him, helping him to feel better. And I want to be able to do those things without feeling like I should be somewhere else or that I’m letting somebody else down. I want to feel the ‘mom’ feelings without the guilt that always seems to come with it.

I know our situation is the right one for our family, but sometimes trying to balance everything is just overwhelmingly hard. I know that stay-at-home moms have their own struggles to balance, but this is one of the times when I really envy the position they’re in. It’s their job to be at home. They’re exactly where they’re meant to be when a child is sick or in need. They’re not letting anyone else down by spending their time holding, snuggling, and nurturing their own child.

When my kids are sick, I would love to be able to put everything else out of my mind and just focus on nursing them back to health. It is, after all, my most important job. It’s just not the only one I have…



Join us over at Things I Can't Say for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday!



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Monday, January 12, 2015

What I Love About Sales Meetings

10:00 AM 0
What I Love About Sales Meetings
This week I’m in San Diego for our National Sales Meeting. We have these meetings twice a year, and they’re always a little hard on my family. These trips are longer than my regular trips during the sales season. They require more planning and coordinating … for me, for Husband, and for the kids. 
Even just getting there and back is more of an effort, because I am usually flying much farther than the regional territory I represent.

However, there are also some things that I love about sales meetings.

Fancy Hotels. During my normal travel, we use typical business hotels. They’re nice, but sales meeting hotels are really nice. The food is better. The coffee is better. The beds are better. And the overall ambiance it better. Sometimes we are at a beach resort, and other times we find ourselves at upscale hotels in metropolitan areas.

Food. Catered food isn’t always fantastic, but I’m a mom who has planned three meals a day and two snacks in between every day for the last five years. For two kids, a husband, and sometimes for myself. Give me a week without having to plan one single meal, and I’m a happy girl. Plus, we usually do get at least one nice restaurant outing. And there is always wine, so I really can’t complain.

Excursions. When you sit in meetings from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm, have ‘working’ lunches, and required business dinners, even the powers that be realize that everyone needs a little break. In August, we did a river boat cruise on Lake Arrowhead in California. It was beautiful! Tomorrow, I am scheduled for a brewery tour. My attendance might be required, but I don’t mind one bit.

Coffee. I know I already mentioned this, but hotel coffee is one of my favorite things. I’m not talking about the in-room coffee maker (gross). There’s just something delicious about commercially brewed coffee. It’s always good. And, at sales meetings, it’s free.

Fun locations. My regular travel takes me all over Texas. I love my state, but Beaumont and the Rio Grande Valley aren’t exactly exotic. We’ve had sales meetings all over California (Pasadena, San Diego, L.A.) because my company is based out there. We’ve also been to a beautiful desert resort in Tucson, and we’re scheduled for somewhere on the East Coast this summer.

I hope you’re enjoying your week and staying warm. I left unusually cold temperatures in Texas for warmer weather this week … and I’m loving it (even if I’m just looking out at it from a conference room).

Happy Monday!



Friday, January 9, 2015

5 Survival Tips for Working Moms in the New Year

7:38 AM 2
5 Survival Tips for Working Moms in the New Year
Remember last week when I posted about options for my New Year’s Resolutions? My Goals? My word for 2015?

Apparently, I meant none of it.

Because when I was recently, and unexpectedly, asked what my New Year’s Resolution is, I immediately -- and without thinking twice -- answered …

Plan more so we stress less.

What the? Did I not just blog several times about completely different goals?

Sometimes, y’all, the mind of this working momma just moves on so quickly, I can’t even keep track.

So, I decided to write down a few specific ways to stay organized, focus on ALL of my goals, and keep from losing my mind as we plunge forward into 2015.



1.       MEAL PLAN. As a working mom, I find that meals are the hardest part of the day. And I work from home fairly often. Technically, I could thaw meat or throw something in the slow cooker so the evenings are a little less hectic. But, emails and conference calls add up, and it’s time to pick up the kids before I know it. So, this month, I’m cooking in bulk and freezing extra fully-cooked meals that I know can be ready with very little time or forethought.

2.       MASTER CALENDAR. Before kids, I could tell you the date, time, and location of any event, appointment or meeting that was scheduled in the coming year. From memory. I could probably even tell you what I planned to wear, given that I would not yet have to worry about spit up on my collar, snotty kisses on my knees, or a fluctuating waistline. Now, though, I’m lucky to remember that lunch is usually sometime around noon. So we have a master calendar. I typically print out a 3-month plan. You don’t need a fancy planner. Just use Excel or Publisher, enter your info, and print. Then print again once you’ve updated by pen everything you forgot to list on the first version. Do it, because it will be a lifeline.

3.       PLAN TIME FOR YOURSELF. You really do have to plan it. Put it on your master calendar, and do it. Whether it’s daily exercise, meditating or praying, a date night, or time with your girlfriends, make sure it happens on a fairly regular basis. It can be easy to get bogged down in work responsibilities and chores at home, but taking care of yourself is the first step to keeping everything else on track. I hear it every time I board a flight for a sales meeting: put on your own oxygen mask before assisting other passengers …

4.       MOTTO or MANTRA. We working parents have such few precious moments with our kids each day, before and after work. And, inevitably, no matter how much you really really really want those moments to be full of joy and fun …. Well, you end up cleaning your car because the baby had a diaper blowout. Or the kids spend the evening in time-out thanks to the somebody-had-a birthday-at-day-care cupcake overload attitude. So sometimes I have to tell the universe: YOU WILL NOT STEAL MY JOY. No matter how many bodily fluid-filled messes or sugar crazed fits we encounter. These are my babies, dang it. We will enjoy our time together.

5.       LET IT GO. I’ve heard the song a dozen or more times a day for the past year, so I should probably let it sink in. I read THE BEST post from Momastery about how you can’t miss your own ship: It won’t leave without you. So if you do happen to miss a deadline or are late for an appointment … or if the meal planning and master calendar and all else fails, just let it go. Live in the moment and enjoy it.


Do you have a tip for surviving the new year? Please share!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Quiet in My Day

7:36 AM 4
The Quiet in My Day
After a very rough first pregnancy, Husband and I were sure we were done having kids.

When enough time and a little mommy brain had erased any real memories of that pregnancy, however, we decided to have another baby.

Which meant another rough pregnancy.

It was different the second time around, though, because we already had a child. A child who I swear was still a baby at the beginning of my second pregnancy. But when I emerged on the other side of the post-partum fog, it was as if I’d lost an entire year of her life.



Where did my baby go?

Even now that we’ve adjusted to life with two kids and are restored to good health, I find myself missing my baby girl.

I miss rocking her to sleep at night. I haven’t done that in years.

I miss the cute way she pronounced words before she could really say them correctly.

I miss the one-on-one time we had.

I miss being able to make her a priority at the drop of a hat.

I miss the bond we had when she was my only child.

I especially find myself missing these things in the quiet of the night, after everyone is tucked in and fast asleep. When I realize that we made it through an entire day without really connecting. Between work and routines and a needy toddler, I often miss the chance to connect with my oldest child.

Sure we hug and snuggle and talk. We read stories and laugh together. We share the same space and experiences. But it’s just not quite the same as it was before.

The quiet in my day now comes long after she is sleeping. It used to come when we settled into the rocking chair in her room to begin her bed time routine.

The quiet in my day happens much less often now. It used to happen every single day. With her.

The quiet in my day sometimes doesn’t come at all. At least not until after even I’m asleep.

I’m so sad and frustrated by this at the end of every day.



But when the new day begins, the same routine just starts all over again. I want to carve out special time for just the two of us, but something always seems to come up.

When you spend all day working and all evening rushing through dinner/bath/bed routines, how do you make special time for individual kids? Time that truly counts? How do you truly connect with each child without neglecting the other?


I know this is our new normal, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But sometimes, when I do happen upon a quiet moment in my day, I find myself missing that time, that bond, I used to share with Miss Mighty. 

Joining in with Things I Can't Say: Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday. Join us. 


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Monday, January 5, 2015

Holiday Hotel

4:23 PM 2
Holiday Hotel
I travel for work. A lot.

I stay in hotels. A lot.

I have a system. A routine. MY way of doing things.

MY way of doing things includes an entire disinfecting regimen, certain things that are never used or touched, and a lot of pretending that certain things like germs or previous occupants do not exist.

Y’all, I’ve been doing this for over a decade. It’s a whole survival thing for me.

So, you can imagine how my one night stay with the whole family went …

Husband immediately picked up the remote control. With his bare hands. No sanitizer. No ice bucket bag over it. Just his Bare. Hands. So gross.

Miss Mighty wanted to know what every single thing was. She picked up every pen, every pad of paper, every toiletry, to ask about it – what was it? Could she keep it? She turned on –and off, and on again – every single light.

The Boy pushed all the buttons on the microwave and jiggled all the door handles. He insisted on walking, NOT being carried, on every elevator trip.  

I couldn’t sleep. I was up for at least 2 hours after everyone went to bed.

We were there for exactly 14 hours.

They LOVED every single second of our ‘Hotel!!!’ trip.

And I really didn’t.  Probably because hotels are kind of my domain, and my sense of normal was way out of whack with everyone in tow.

I loved the time we spent with family before we arrived at the hotel. I loved that we all snuggled in ‘that awesome, big bed’ the next morning. I loved watching the kids explore and experience new things.


I just think I might need to check in early next time … head up to the room and disinfect everything. And, I mean everything. Yes, even the lamp cords, base boards, insides of the cabinets … and pretty much anything else that isn’t hanging from the ceiling, because … well, you know kids. And husbands. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Move

7:47 AM 0
Move
Earlier this week, I wrote about several options for my New Year’s Resolution. Mrs. Gray over at The Gray Matters suggested that I pick just one word. Since she mentioned this idea, I have seen several others doing the same thing … and I love the idea.

One word really can encompass so many goals. So my word for 2015 is …

MOVE.

I will move physically for fitness but I will also move out old recipes and ingredients that are not particularly healthy.

I will move forward with my writing. Some days that might mean simply moving through the motions, while long term goals will remind me to move toward something more.

When it comes to my parenting goals, I want to move past the frustrations that arise when trying to balance it all. I want to move into the few precious moments I have with my kids each day and simply enjoy them.

And I want to move the water to start making even the tiniest ripples. It’s time to do more with the blessings we have been given.


Do you have a resolution for the new year? Or just one word?