MBA Mommy

Part MBA, Part MRS, Part MOM…..All ME

Archive for the ‘MBA’ Category

Make it Count

Posted by mbamommy on August 7, 2012

In my last couple posts, I’ve made reference to the fact that there’s been a lot of change around here recently, which led to my blog absence. In some sense it’s been pretty life changing. All good changes, thankfully, nothing like going through Z’s diagnosis a couple years ago, but life changing nonetheless.

Almost exactly a year ago today, I posted about my life as a slot machine. Well, the slots have stopped. The Refresh button has been pressed. FINALLY!

The kids are fully entrenched in their languange immersion school. They’re doing so well that S actually won a speech contest earlier this year. They’re making friends, having fun and learning a ton. What more could I ask for?

J’s job is going great. He’s loving it and is on a fantastic career track.

We bought a HOUSE. We’re no longer renting our teeny tiny temporary home and have found our dream house. I’m never moving again. Seriously, it’s from here to the old folks home. I can walk the kids to school. I can walk to Starbuck’s. I can walk to the parks, the pool and my friend’s houses. It’s an easy commute to downtown and basically anywhere else I’d want to go in Denver. I’m so thrilled to have found it and so happy to have that stability in our lives.

I found a JOB. A full time job, working at a really great digital agency, managing top brand clients, making more money than I expected and with a Senior Director title.

I quit that JOB. A full time agency job, with all its stressors, travel, and demands on my time and mental bandwidth turned out to not be what I wanted. I could have done the job. We, as a family, could’ve manage the travel, the hours, the chaos, the craziness. But I realized that I didn’t WANT to. Yes, it was great to have the extra money. Yes, it was fun to be challenged and work with smart, engaging peeps. But, I wasn’t sleeping. I was eating poorly, not working out and drinking too much. I wasn’t healthy and I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t being true to myself and playing to my strengths.

I started another JOB. A part time, work at home opportunity with my previous client. This one is perfect. Just enough responsibility without requiring me to be on call 24/7. Minimal travel (only once a year), working with great folks in an industry I love and with the flexibility required to keep my family running smoothly. I’m making some money, not a ton, but some.

And, who knows, maybe someday it’ll lead to something more. But for now, it’s allowing me the balance I so deeply crave. It’s allowing the MBA, the MOM, the MRS and the ME to have equal opportunity to shine. I’m happy and I’m being true to myself.  Not all the time, of course. I’ve certainly had my moments. This is life, not a game show, afterall. But, with the balance I’ve created, worked for and am lucky enough to have, I can handle those moments better.

I can (dare I say it?) have it all.

The morning after I left my previous job I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “This is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Now that we’ve completed the refresh of our lives I can actually start living it. Between Crossfit, eating well, working part time, playing with the kids, playing with J and living in Colorado, I think I can make it count.

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Posted in MBA, ME, MOM, MRS | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Live Unapologetically

Posted by mbamommy on July 31, 2012

Have you ever said you’re sorry without meaning it? I sure have.

I’ve apologized to get someone else to own up to what they’ve done.

“I’m sorry about hitting your car.”

“No, it was my fault, I was texting, I’m really sorry”

(note, this didn’t really happen, but it does add color, doesn’t it)

I’ve apologized as an intro.

“Sorry to interrupt, but I just happen to overhear you say….”

I’ve apologized for my existence.

“Well, excuse me for breathing.”

I’ve apologized for someone else.

“Sorry my son just knocked down your kid’s tower. He didn’t mean it.”

I’ve apologized to get reassurance.

“Sorry I burnt your dinner.”

“No honey, it tasted great. I love charred burgers.”

I’ve apologized for guilt.

“I’m so sorry I forgot your birthday.”

What I don’t usually do is apologize to myself.

“Self, I’m sorry I make you feel guilty for not doing things perfectly. It’s really ok and you’re doing a bang up job with this life of yours. Keep it up!”

And, you know what? It’s really not that sincere. And, just like I wouldn’t want to say ” I love you” without meaning it, I don’t want to say “I’m sorry” without meaning it. It cheapens the emotion behind the phrase when it’s tossed around indiscriminantly.  It negates the real apology I listed above.

So, I’ve decided to live unapologetically. I vow to try my hardest not to apologize if I don’t mean it. I also vow to try my hardest to live in such a way that I don’t feel it necessary to apologize.

And the first order of business is NOT to apologize for being absent from this blog. Every time I have a self-inflicted sabbatical, I start out again by apologizing to you, my reader. But not this time. I got busy. A lot has happened since I last posted which has dropped the importance of this blog down a couple notches. It happens.

I’m not sorry.

The good news about a sabbatical is that it allows for post ideas to build up and I’ve got an arsenal of things I want to write about. I am going to start blogging again. And, I’m going to take my own advice. I’m always telling clients that the most important thing about increasing readership on a blog or making a presence for yourself in social media is to have consistent content. I tell them to decide on the cadence of content you’ll post, create an editorial calendar and block time on your schedule. And then stick to it. Write.

Here we go…..

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Labels

Posted by mbamommy on December 15, 2011

I am….

a mother

a wife

a sister

a daughter

an advocate

a friend

an ear

a shoulder

a heart

a brain

a body

a life

a tear

a smile

a giggle

a tickle finger

a Mommy monster

a squeeze

a hug

a kiss

a hand

a sigh

beautiful

strong

willful

independent

curious

scared

unsure

confident

loving

angry

sad

joyous

…me.

I do…

autism

a job

an exercise

a meal

some housework

a lot of talking

a lot of reading

a lot of writing

some yoga

some meditating

errands

pick up/drop off

child care

driving

discipline

…things.

There’s a difference.

Posted in ASPERGER'S, AUTISM, MBA, ME, MOM, MRS | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

“No More Worthy Work That Needs To Be Done”

Posted by mbamommy on December 13, 2011

I talk a lot about special needs. I talk a lot about the personal education choices we’ve made for our children.

I don’t talk about it nearly enough. I don’t do nearly enough.

Here’s a few things I haven’t shared.

I was educated at a private school in Miami, FL because the public school system in Dade County is/was terrible. My Dad always talks about how he went to public school in Rochester, NY and got a great education but knew when he moved us down to Miami that my brother and I would wind up in private school because his property taxes were so low. Meaning, public schools didn’t get the funding they needed.

If I hadn’t gone to said private school, I would have gotten lost in the mix and probably dropped out of high school.

Because of the foundation in education I received, I went on to college and eventually graduate school.

Last year I applied to be a Broad Resident so that I could be a part of the change we need in our public school systems. Broad Residents are graduate level (mostly MBA) educated individuals who have a desire to make a change in our school districts. They are Change Agents. J always talks about how he sees a discrepancy between how we pay teachers and how we pay Wall Street. He thinks that the reason highly educated individuals (MBAs) don’t typically go into education is because there’s not a lot of money in it. MBAs generally go to consulting firms, Wall Street firms and brand management firms where they use their education and skills to further sell products and make money. They could be the change agents needed in school districts but don’t because they don’t get paid enough. The Broad Residency helps bridge that gap.

I wasn’t accepted into the program but it peaked my interest in what’s happening in our education system.

I have a vested interest in education because I have 2 children entering into the system. I chose a private school so my children can be fluent in two languages. I also chose this private school because of the smaller class sizes and higher levels of expectations of the students. Saying that, we have also chosen to live in Cherry Creek Public School District because other school districts in the Denver area are terrible and just in case the world collapses and we can’t send our kids to their current school, I won’t have to subject my children to a bad education experience.

I also have a vested interest because if the education system continues the way it does now, my children will be competing against peers from other countries for jobs. I’d rather them be competing against Americans.

I recently watched Waiting For Superman and was literally left speechless, furious and inspired to do SOMETHING. ANYTHING. I’d highly recommend watching it. If you need to borrow my copy, I’ll gladly loan it to you.

I just watched a video of Michelle Rhee speak at an Ace Scholarship luncheon here in Denver last year. I want to sit and listen to her and follow her and do anything I can to help her work. She’s truly amazing. Two things she said that truly hit home for me are: “There is no more worthy work that needs to be done.” And, “Don’t underestimate our children.”

I have been searching for something to do since all of this came to my attention. I don’t know if that something is in the form of a job, volunteering, or what. I know I could give money, but that seems to be too easy. I want to DO something. My biggest pet peeve in the world is inefficiency (just ask J, he knows) and if all these documentaries and speeches are correct, inefficiency is rampant in our education system. It’s a waste. It’s our fault. And it needs to change. I’ve been telling J for years that I’m tired of making money for a big company. I’m tired of doing something that I’m not proud of at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very good at what I do. And, what I do helps on a micro level – it benefits my own children enormously. But, my career to date can be summed up with the phrase of “putting heads in beds” (hotel slang). I’d like to do something more. Bigger. Better.

I am participating in a conference call with Michelle Rhee and her organization Students First tonight. Maybe this will help me in my search for that elusive something. Consider joining the call. It’s worth the time.

Posted in MBA, MOM | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

WASM

Posted by mbamommy on December 8, 2011

You know, every time I think about the title to this post, the “Wassssuuuuup” Budweiser commercials come to mind. WAAASSSSSSM.

I bet you’re wondering what WASM stands for, right? Well, these days, we Mommy’s have a lot of acronyms to describe how we live. There’s the SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), WAHM (work-at-home-mom), PT mommy (part time working mom), Mompreneur and working Mom (ok, ok, those last 3 weren’t acronyms but work with me here people, I’m trying to make a point).

Today, I’d like to introduce another acronym into our blogging landscape: WASM (work-at-starbuck’s-mom).

Because, that’s what I am. I’ve done all of the above labels (literally all) and finally settled into this new WASM model. See, I work part time. I have my own marketing consulting business (SaZa Consulting) and a few amazing clients and I love the work, the flexibility, the time spent working and not working. I love it all except my work environment. We are still renting our home and my “office” is a falling down desk filled with paper and to do’s and all sorts of crap that is NOT conducive to productivity and creativity. Our home is waaayyyy to small to be a WAHM. My printer is on the floor, under my desk and I kick it about every 5 minutes. My files are in plastic boxes on the floor next to my desk and if I want to get into any of them I have to move the plastic desk organizers that are stacked on top of them.

I know, I know, bitch bitch bitch, right? Because, you see, I have it really good. I get to work part time and have flexible hours. I get to do this for several reasons:

  • Because I CAN work this way (hubby’s got a good job)
  • Because I NEED to work this way (2 kiddos and lots of therapy appts requires one of us to be available during working hours)
  • Because I WANT to work this way (managing 2 challenging full time careers was just too much for my little family)
  • Because I HAVE to work this way (finding balance in my life is a huge priority for me so that I can do all the things I need to do to keep my little family running smoothly)

My working environment isn’t all that terrible. I do get to work in yoga pants and workout shirts and my office mate only wants a pat on her head every now and then.

My spoiled little pup...isn't she cute!

But, it isn’t ideal either. It’s cramped, crowded and there’s a million other things I could/should be doing around the house.

Enter Starbuck’s. My salvation. I can go to Starbuck’s, find a table, plug in my headphones and all of a sudden I’m like the Tasmanian devil of productivity and creativity. I get to see people but they don’t bother me like they do in an office. I get to listen to my own music. I get to be completely focused on the task at hand without external interruptions.

Can I get a Whoop Whoop?

Sounds great, right? Lemme guess, you’re gonna run out and set up shop at your local Starbuck’ right…..NOW!

Well, hold on just a minute grasshopper. There’s some things you should know about being a WASM. Not a lot, just a few. And if you can get these things down, you too can be a seasoned WASM in no time.

Golden Nugget of Wisdom #1: Bring a Sweater

Starbuck’s is cold. Really cold. Winter, summer, spring, fall. It’s cold. I didn’t get it at first. I thought, maybe they’re trying to kick me out? But, no, there’s plenty of other people that sit forever nursing their one Tall Coffee with Room. So, one day I asked if they could turn up the heat. The nice guy behind the counter said, “I’m really sorry but we don’t have control over our heating system. It’s run by a company down in Texas that manages all the Starbuck’s in the country so we can be greener with our energy usage…..But, would you like a nice hot beverage to warm you up?”

Those evil masterminds in Seattle. Not only do they get me feeling guilty for even asking to turn up the heat because now I feel like I’m the reason there’s global warming….but, damn them if they didn’t try to stick a convincingly polite upsell into it! Don’t worry, I didn’t fall for that trick.

Golden Nugget of Wisdom #2: Choose Your Spot Wisely

Comfy chair? Small table? By the window? So many options when it comes to choosing your work domain. But, there’s pros and cons to each. I’ve found that a comfy chair is ideal for doing fun stuff, like writing this blog or watching YouTube videos. But when it comes to actually getting work done, it’s much more motivating to have a hard chair under your tush. And, if you choose to sit at a table, DEFINITELY get a small one. There’s plenty of room to set up your laptop, coffee and snack but not enough room to encourage that lurker who didn’t score a table from coming to share with you. Because, really, who wants to share your work domain? By the window is preferable unless it’s next to the door (too friggin cold in the winter) and you want to be as far away from the counter as possible – less foot traffic. Extra points if you find a spot close to an outlet. If you do, you may want to call home and let them know you’ll be at Starbuck’s for the next 6-9 months but they should definitely come visit often.

Golden Nugget of Wisdom #3: Rock on With Your Bad Self

You’ve got your toons, you’ve got your got headphones, you’ve got your favorite playlist… so go on, rock on, do a little dance in that comfy chair, bob your head, shrug your shoulders to the music. No one’s looking, no one cares and it keeps your blood flowing. But, never. NEVER take a cell phone call. It’s ok if you’re with someone and talking really loudly (that’s why God invented noise canceling headphones, right?). But, if you’re doing it solo? People WILL look at you funny. Don’t ask me why, I didn’t write the rules, I’m only relaying them. Apparently talking loudly to yourself in public is taboo. Go figure.

Golden Nugget of Wisdom #4: Excuse Me, But Would You Mind Watching My Stuff?

You brought your laptop, your iPhone, your wallet, your car keys.  Hell, you brought everything of importance with you, right? So, why wouldn’t you ask some complete stranger to watch your things as you run quickly to the restroom? They’re trustworthy, right? Well, it’s a common courtesy and one of the unwritten rule of Starbuck’s. You CAN and SHOULD do that. Because you may lose that perfect spot if you take all your stuff to the bathroom. And, if you look someone in the eye and ask them to watch your stuff, it’s like an Unbreakable Vow a la Harry Potter. Your stuff is safe for the 3 minutes it takes you to tinkle.

Snape guarantees Narcissa can pee without her stuff being jacked

Golden Nugget of Wisdom #5: If You’re There Long Enough You’ll Get Free Stuff

Now, this is contrary to most eating establishments. Usually, the longer you stay, the more often you’ll get reminded that you’re taking up precious real estate and wouldyoupleaseorderanotherdrinkimmediately. But not at Starbuck’s. If you stick around long enough, they’ll come around with samples of some new yumminess you can’t say no to. And that’s just all sorts of awesome.

Golden Nugget of Wisdom #6: Give Starbuck’s Gift Cards

Because omigod you mean I HAVE to go spend this money at Starbuck’s and not on groceries, kids clothes, gas, rent, mortgage or dog food? SA-WEET!

Golden Nugget of Wisdom #7: Buy Starbuck’s Stock

I don’t care what time it is. I don’t care what city you’re in. I don’t care if there is a Starbuck’s on EACH corner of a particular intersection. If you go in, there will be a line. If there’s a drive through, there will be a line. If it’s peak hours, you will have to wait to get a table. And people are spending a minimum of $2 for a cup of coffee. Even in this economy. Seriously. We wait in line to have the pleasure of giving this company our hard earned money for over priced, burnt tasting coffee. And, it’s a little nuts that we all know their lingo. “I’ll have a grande-no-whip-half-caf-skinny-mocha”. And you get annoyed if you don’t say it in the right order ’cause you want to be as cool as they are, right? And, do I need to mention gift cards again? Between giving and receiving, Starbuck’s got $125 of my holiday spend. That’s prepaid, recognizable revenue for them. From a corporation’s perspective there’s nothing better! And for me? Prepaid excuse to get out from my crappy home work environment. It’s a win. win. win.

So, now you know. Venture forth into the world armed with this knowledge and you too can be a WASM.

You’re welcome. 🙂

Posted in MBA | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dilemma

Posted by mbamommy on November 18, 2011

I have a problem.  Well, I think it’s a problem.  Maybe it’s not.  Maybe it’s a dilemma (are those even different?).  See, on one hand, I can’t figure anything out that’s actually wrong with my situation.  But, on the other hand I can’t figure anything out that’s right.  Something’s not quite fitting in my round hole/square peg life.

Wanna hear about it?  Great, I’m glad you asked.

I work part time right now. I work for this amazing company who’s agreed to let me do my job when and where I want to do it.  This is a company that is considered THE thought leader in my industry; one that I’ve admired since I began my career 10 (15!) years ago.  They pretty much have said, “So, what do you want to do?  OK, how about a mix of that and a little of some stuff that isn’t super interesting but needs a capable mind to manage it?  Yes?  OK great!  Now, how much do you charge?  OK, that’ll work.  Here’s your deadline.  Send the work in by then.  Thanks so much for the help and let me know if you have any questions.”

I am still able to do kidlet drop off and pick up.  I can still take Z to his therapy appointments.  I can still run errands and go grocery shopping.  I can still (in theory if not in actual practice) go to the gym.  And I am contributing to the family checking account.  I have one foot in the business world and one foot in MBAMommy-land.

Perfect, right?

And then this amazing company invites me to attend and work at their conference.  Again, this is THE conference for my industry.  One that I’ve wanted to attend since I began my career 10 (15!) years ago.  So, they fly me to a warm place, put me up in a gorgeous hotel and give me a job that’s fairly mindless but allows me to watch all the presentations for 3 days.  I don’t really have a whole lot of responsibility, especially compared to my counterparts working the registration booth and speaking with clients and being the collective face of the company.  I can just sit back, relax, and watch things unfold.  Hell, I even have time to go to the gym almost everyday.  No kids, little responsibility and warm weather for an entire week.

Perfect, right?

Seriously, how could I ask for more?

And therein lies my dilemma.  I don’t have a lot of responsibility.  I don’t have to be in front of the client.  I have one foot in the business world and one foot in MBAMommy-land.  And I sit back and I watch major events unfolding on both sides.  While sitting on the sidelines.

Back at home, poor J is dealing with one illness after another.  Before I left, Z had strep and croup and I was sick as a dog, staying in bed trying to get better so I could come to this conference.  So, J comes back from his own business trip and jumps in with 2 feet to take care of all of us.  2 nights before I leave, Z runs downstairs at 9pm to inform us that he’s just swallowed a nail.  And, off to the ER J & Z go.

See the watch pin?  Turns out we didn’t have much to worry about.  But that damn pin didn’t see the light of day until AFTER I’d already left for the conference.  Since I’ve been gone, J’s had to deal with gross kidlet issues from both kids and both ends (‘nuf said).  And, here I am, at this amazing conference, soaking it all in very intellectually.  Sleeping well, working out, eating like a queen and getting to know my co-workers.

Can you say Mama guilt?

But, the issue is more than just Mama guilt.  I’ve found myself in an awkward position here too because of the one foot in, one foot out situation.  The MBA in me is frustrated that I’m not busier, that I don’t have more responsibility, that I’m merely benched and watching everyone else work their magic.  And, when I am confronted with doing the polite chit-chat of getting to know someone professionally, I struggle because I’m most comfortable talking about kids and Asperger’s…..not exactly a hot topic at a business convention.  And, I’ve found it hard to explain my role and my background.  Below is an example of a recent conversation:

Co-Worker: “So, I’ve heard your name before….what is it that you do?”

Me: “Well, I work part time as a project manager, but I also dabble in sales stuff and research stuff and I’ve worked on X and Y and Z.  But, really I’m also a stay at home Mom to 2 kids that are in school full time.  My older one has Asperger’s so I can’t really go back to work full time because he still needs someone to drive him to his therapies and neither kid handles a full day with after school care very well.  But, I can work part time while they’re at school and still pick them up when school is over.  Hopefully someday I’ll be able to go back to work full time….”

Versus a similar exchange 5 years ago:

Client: “So, what’s your role at your company?”

Me: “Well, I’m the Director of Client Strategy.  I oversee the account teams and help with strategic direction and business development.”

See the difference?  One is a great elevator pitch.  The other? Ramblings of someone who’s not quite sure of where she stands because she’s got one foot in two distinctly different worlds.

So, I guess my dilemma is this.  In MBAMommy-land, things are perfect.  I’ve found an amazing balance between work and life that I’ve wanted since I had kids.  I’m in a perfect situation with a great company.  I get to experience things I’ve wanted to experience my entire career but don’t necessarily have a lot of skin in the game.  But out in the real world, when i’m confronted face to face with those that have skin in the game, it’s not easily packaged and delivered.  At least not yet.  I’ve got my work cut out for me figuring out this new spot I’m in.

What about you?  Does anyone else out there have this same challenge of explaining the round hole/square peg you live in?

Posted in MBA, MOM | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Mile High Mamas

Posted by mbamommy on September 2, 2011

Well lookie here…

Wait, not here….

Over here

Take a look, spend some time over there and then come back here and I’ll explain everything.

Go on….I’ll wait…..

You back?  Great!  Did you notice that one of my old posts is on that page?  The one where I talk about Z’s diagnosis…or rather, the first in a 4 part series where I talk about that whole process….

How cool is that?  I somehow lucked out in meeting Amber, the editor of Mile High Mamas, online and she asked me to be a guest blogger, focusing on, you guessed it, Aspie’s.  I showed her some of my old posts and she asked if she could post the I Know How I’m Going To Die.  So, I of course said, YES!!!!  PLEASE!!!  I’d LOVE to share my story!

So….there it is in a nutshell.  I get to be a guest blogger about once a month on this super cool local Moms website, Mile High Mamas.  I’ll let you know the next time I’m over there.  Oh yes, I’m all about shameless self-promotion.  And, you should be all about promoting me too!  Tell your friends!  Tell your loved ones!!  Tell that weird homeless guy on the corner!!!  Wait…he probably doesn’t have a computer….you can probably forget about him.

And, while you’re over there, take a look around, make some comments.  Especially if you’re a Mom in CO.  It’s such a great site!

Posted in ASPERGER'S, AUTISM, MBA, ME, MOM, MRS | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Shrug

Posted by mbamommy on August 9, 2011

Recently, I’ve been listening to CPR (Colorado Public Radio) when driving. The repetition of songs on the radio were making my teeth clench, I’m bored of my CD’s and don’t have a new enough car to hook up my iPhone. It kind of happened by accident and now I’m completely addicted. I love listening to the stories, interviews and news reports and find myself being frustrated when I’ve reached my destination and have to turn the car off. Frankly, I’m typically terrible about following the news and this is a built in way given how often I’m in the car…multi-tasking, right?

Anyhoo….yesterday, I was listening to an interview about Colorado Correctional Industries. This is a work/training program that’s done across the country, putting inmates to work and giving them skills. OK, so, that’s all great and good, make sure these people don’t just sit in their cells and twiddle their thumbs…or worse. Except those are my tax dollars, right? Wrong. CCI actually lowers the cost of prisons. They also produce some pretty amazing things: cattle, produce, dairy, office furniture, canoes…the list goes on. It’s cheap labor. It helps inmates learn skills that will allow them to be employed later on. It gives them self esteem that hopefully helps them not land back in jail in the future.

That’s all well and good. Seriously, I’m all about helping folks fix their lives. But, let’s look at the things that mean the most to me. It brings down the cost of the food they grow (and I subsequently eat). And it decreases the cost of correctional facilities (my tax dollars).

Wow….that’s a win-win-win in my book!

And then I hear an opposing view at the end of the interview (and, I guess you always have to have an opposing view). One of the things CCI grows is tilapia. They can grow it cheaper and better than traditional tilapia farms. And this tilapia farmer, who’s been working his whole life growing the market for tilapia is mad at CCI. He’s complaining because CCI can grow better (bigger) tilapia than he can at a lower cost. And it’s eating into his market share.  And, he doesn’t think he should have to compete with them because…uhhh….I’m not exactly sure WHY..something about them being able to lower their costs and manufacture a better product?

Hmmm…..ever heard of competition? And competitive advantage? And new innovations to improve your business? Quit grumbling and get back to work. You’ve got such knowledge of your product that you MADE the market? Well, go win it back.

John Galt is rolling over in his grave.

Posted in MBA | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

From Here to There, From There to Here…..

Posted by mbamommy on August 4, 2011

…funny things are everywhere.

I realized yesterday that it was a year ago this week that our migration to Colorado began.  J had just received his job offer and I jumped on a plane and spent 4 days looking at rentals, schools and therapy providers.

Was it really just a year ago?  It feels like a lifetime and a minute all rolled into one.  So much has happened in a year and so much more will happen as we go forward (ugh….I shouldn’t try to be philosophical before I have my coffee in the morning…that was terrible).

I have an analogy I like to use to describe my family’s situation right now.  You know how when you play a slot machine, you pull the the lever (or, I guess these days you just press a button), and the slots spin around and around, slowing down one by one until they line up along the line?  And then you see what you’ve won?  I feel like our life is kind of like that slot machine.  The first slot has stopped spinning….the kids/school situation.  The second one is slowing….J’s job situation.  The third one is still spinning and will need to continue until the other two are in place (me!).

To go in more depth about that, I should give a (semi) brief update on how everyone’s doing.

Z is doing amazingly well.  When we first got here and he started preschool with his IEP and private therapy services, they had to do a lot of interventions to help him regulate his sensory overloads and learn how to play with other kids.  We (J, I, his therapists and the teachers) literally had to teach him how to play.  And, not just the turn-taking stuff that every kid has to learn. We also had to teach him to read expressions, understand the give and take of a conversation and how to be flexible enough to allow other people (adults first and then kids) influence the games they were playing without having a complete meltdown when he wasn’t scripting everything.  In the beginning, the OT would bring him in from recess early and take him to the ‘motor room’ where she had a swing and a dark, quiet corner where he could wind down.  Otherwise, his sensory system completely overloaded with the transition from playground to loud, chaotic bathroom to sitting down in a classroom.  By the end of the year, not only was he a part of every minute of the class, he was helping other kids resolve conflicts and the SpEd team was using games/therapies they usually reserve for kindergarteners because he blew through the more age appropriate stuff!

It wasn’t an easy road in the least.  I spent a lot of my time driving him to and from school and therapy (he spent 10 hrs a week in school and 10 hrs a week in therapy).  But the teams he worked with were all angels…truly seeing my son and his strengths and using those strengths to work through the weaknesses.  One example: Z is obsessed with airplanes.  Has been for as long as I can remember.  So, his school OT created a game where she’d ask him “How is your engine running?  Fast, like an F-16?  Just right, like a Blackhawk? Or slow, like a Bi-plane?”  She used it to help him identify how he was feeling and she altered the traditional usage from Winnie the Pooh (fast like Tigger, just right like Pooh or slow like Eeyore) to something he could relate to.  She made charts for school, home and his private therapy so we could all use it.  He loved it and was able to identify how he was feeling and we could help him regulate from there.

A year ago, Z would scream when we washed his hair during bath.  He HATED getting his hair and face wet and we’d have to take extra precautions not to get water in his face or ears….I think it actually hurt him somehow.  We started swim lessons at the beginning of the summer and for weeks he would cry and get upset whenever his teacher wanted him to put his head under water.  And then…one day…BAM….he was swimming.  Something clicked in that little head of his and now we can’t keep him ABOVE water!  He graduated to the next level of swim school.  He’s extremely strong and can swim a good ways across the pool underwater.  We’re at the pool all weekend, with him jumping in, swimming to us and back to the wall, jumping off our shoulders, playing with older kids…he even ventured into the deep end last weekend!  J and I look at each other sometimes and say, “Is that really our little Z?!”

Before we moved here, I heard horror stories about services available in Colorado.  How the schools weren’t great, how there weren’t experienced service providers, insurance didn’t cover autism related services, etc etc.  I have to say that I’ve had nothing but amazing experiences with everyone who’s worked with Z.  They were right about insurance….the situation is abominable….I’ve even thought about getting in touch with Erin Brokovich to see if she could make a difference, but I’ve been a little busy with my own little life so far.

So….Z’s doing so well that we stopped therapy for the summer.  I don’t think we’ll be starting ABA again but we are in the process of getting OT rolling again.  He’s still got some challenges regulating himself (what 4yo doesn’t, right?) and because of his new school environment (more on that in a minute) we think it’s still important to have outside support.

The biggest change (for me, at least) is my relationship with me.  A year ago, he could take me or leave me.  He was ALL about Daddy.  I would have to coerce affection out of him.  For some reason, he just wasn’t interested in hugging and kissing me…or anyone else for that matter…just Daddy.  There were nights when I would go into his room to say goodnight when he and Daddy were reading and J would be close to threatening him with timeout so that he’d give me a hug. I always stopped him before it got to that point, satisfying myself with just blowing him a kiss.  And, I understood what was going on.  But, it still sucked.

He still fights me at every turn.  His logical little brain constantly looks for ways to rationalize his way out of doing his chores or anything else I tell him to do.  He questions everything and refuses to accept a half answer, which I mistakenly try to give him sometimes.  But instead of hitting, scratching, biting, kicking when I say no to him, he (mostly) accepts it.  Pouting and telling me he’s mad at me of course…..but a FAR cry from our arguments of a year ago.  Folks, he TELLS me he’s mad.  Do you understand how HUGE that it?

Anyway, our relationship has changed and evolved into something I treasure.  He asks for me to read books to him at night.  He asks me to cuddle with him.  He comes to me when he’s upset.  He freely gives me hugs and kisses, even sometimes without me asking for them.  He tells me he loves me and squeezes even harder.  Those parents of kiddos on the spectrum that are reading this will understand how unbelievably precious this is.  Those parents of NT kiddos…..please cherish each and every hug, they are a blessing.  I find myself waiting until he lets go to end an embrace because every hug reminds me of when I used to not get them.  And I never want them to stop.  Hopefully now they won’t (at least until high school and I’m a constant embarrassment to him).

OK, so now little S….who’s not so little anymore.  My baby girl.  What can I say about her?  Well….not much without getting teary.  She’s our angel, she’s our diva, she’s the light of our house and she can just as easily bring our home crumbling down around her with her tantrums.  She’s growing a very funny, very sweet, very LARGE personality.  Her teachers all love her and comment on her dramatic way of talking.  She’s all hand gestures and exaggerated facial expressions.  She’s a smart little lady who excels at everything big bro doesn’t: relationships, friends, reading people….street smarts to his book smarts.  She’s a tough little girl who won’t back down to bullying by big bro.  She’s a natural athlete who can throw a ball better than Z.  She’s not afraid of anything and is usually the one leading Z into trying new things (like swimming).  She’s my girly-girl who loves all things pink (including her elephants) but is dirty from head to toe at the end of every day.  She idolizes big bro, is a Daddy’s girl and has an amazing bond with Mommy.  She’s a snuggler and a cuddler and a jokester all in one.  What’s the saying?  “When she’s good she’s very very good.  And when she’s bad she’s terrible.”?  Something like that.  Well, that’s my S.  She’s stubborn, independent and opinionated. (I have NO idea where she gets that). She keeps us on our toes and laughing all the time.  I remember being terrified of having a girl….and now I couldn’t imagine life without her.

So…school.  We’ve decided to send the kids to a language immersion school to learn Mandarin.  They’re in camp at the school this summer and they both LOVE it.  They come home every day with new words, new songs, new friends.  J and I are so far extremely impressed with the school, the community, the education….we’re so excited we found this for our kids.

And, because that first slot has stopped moving, everything else can slowly fall into place.  The kids are in a great spot…they’ve got their groove on.  And it’s so wonderful to see after all we’ve been through.

As for J….well, he’s getting his groove on too.  I’ll write more about his marathon in another post (or, maybe have him write it? hmmm….) but as far as getting involved in the Denver community and finding a good job fit…well, it’s all there.  Now that my gregarious, outgoing husband is out from behind his desk and doing what he was born to do, his career path is bright and solid.  His “thing” this summer is golf and he’s taking full advantage of the Colorado summer to get out on the course and hack away.  Recently, he and I began a workout program called Insanity.  The workout is hard….insane, if you will.  But what’s truly insane is we get up at 5:30am in the morning to do it.  Crazy, right?  But, it’s been fun.  It helps your motivation when the person who’s sleeping next to you is pushing you out of bed when the alarm goes off.  It’s motivating to hear the huffing and puffing and under-your-breath swearing going on right next to you.  It’s an amazing way to wake up and keep your energy going throughout the day.  And, if NOTHING else goes right for the rest of the day, at least you worked out!  J and I end every workout high fiving and fist bumping.  It’s fun to have something new to do together.  And, boy, do we sleep well!

I know I was the driving force behind us moving to CO, but he’s certainly a willing participant.  He drank the kool-ade and we’re both loving living here.

And, finally, me.  Well, my slot is still spinning.  There are a lot of things that still need to be finalized before mine stops.  Things like finally selling our house in NC (we have a contract but it’s contingent on them selling their house).  Things like figuring out whether I want to/need to and can/can not go back to work full time.  And, what will that look like?  Where would I work full time?  Do I  formalize the contract/consulting I’m doing now?  Do I want to?  And, what’s best for my family?  For me?  So many questions.

But, that’s all really ok.  Because, I’m having the time of my life right now.  J and I have dubbed this summer the “Summer of MBA Mommy”.  I’m working part time and the kids are in camp all day.  I’ve got free time to do the things I want to do (yoga, blog, reading, writing, walking, seeing friends) and free time to do the things I need to do.  I’m making some money….not a ton….but not nothing either.  I’ve written before about wanting to Be Present in my life and I will write more about Finding Balance.  I feel that I’ve struck the perfect balance this summer.  Frankly, I feel like I’ve won the lottery.  Freedom during the summer in Colorado?  There’s not much more I could ask for….well, except for someone to buy our buyer’s house so I can stop my obsessive online house hunting and start for real….anyone in the market for a new house in Raleigh?  I know a GREAT one you could buy. 🙂

Because then? JACKPOT.

Posted in ASPERGER'S, AUTISM, MBA, ME, MOM, MRS | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

I am Zen Mommy

Posted by mbamommy on April 12, 2011

(Jacquie W, if you’re reading this, yes, I’m borrowing your FB post line from way back when.  Hope that’s ok!)

In this recent quest of mine to stop being stupid via focusing on one thing at a time (aka STOP multitasking), I’ve discovered meditating.  OK…..stop laughing…rolling your eyes….groaning…I KNOW. Meditating?  Really?  Dude, I’ve totally moved back to CO, right?  Next thing you know, I’ll stop shaving, grow dreadlocks and start following the Dead.  Oh wait…they’re dead (at least Jerry, and, come on, he’s the only one I know).

Besides, I already tried on the hippie bit back in college in Boulder….it didn’t fit….I like showering too much.

But, I digress.

Yes, folks.  Meditating.  Now, you have to understand, this is not the first step down this path that I’ve taken.  I’ve been eating (mostly) Primal for about 6 months (more on that in another post), with much leeway to fall off the wagon, I buy almost 100% organic, I get my milk delivered to my doorstep from a local dairy, I work out regularly (including yoga) and I recently went to a Naturopath.

I’m guessing your starting to say “Huh?” and “Why?”.  Or just shaking your head and thinking “Man, that altitude has really gotten to her.”  And, yes, folks, even though it’s legal in this state for medicinal purposes, I am NOT smoking anything.

This is all in the pursuit of being a better ME.  Being a better MBA, a better MOM, a better MRS…and mostly just a plain old better ME.

See, I didn’t realize it while it was happening, but the past few years have been nuts.  With so much going on, so much to deal with, so many changes, I kind of lost touch with the present.  And, apparently, that’s what meditation is all about.  Being present. Frankly, that’s what all these life changes are about.

I know that sounds a little odd, but think about it.  How much of your time is spent thinking/reliving the past or stressing/planning for the future?  When you’re multitasking: getting the kids breakfast ready, checking email, feeding the dog, thinking about the day, remembering something you forgot to do, writing up a grocery list, thinking about your work project, forgetting to shower or brush your hair…..how much are you actually missing?  I mean, do you actually taste the food you cook?  Do you look at your kids?  Do you listen to what they’re saying?  Do you see their desire to interact with you?

Sadly, I sure don’t.  I’m so focused on doing, finishing, checking things off my list, moving, moving, moving.  And, at the end of the day, my to do list is still there….but my kids will be in college.  And, I really don’t want to look back and think about all the times I missed out on.  Honestly?  I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about the past at all.  Because I want to be able to enjoy NOW.  I’m realizing that as much as I keep saying I want a break from my life, to take a vacation or just sleep in….what I really want to do is focus on the here and now.  ‘Cause you know what?  It’s pretty damn good.  My kids are amazing and getting more amazing each day.  And my husband is wonderful.  And I don’t want to ever take any of that for granted.

In the immortal words of Ferris, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So, I’m trying it.  Just like I’m trying all these other things.  So far, eating Primal is making my body feel better (my mom has celiac’s….I’m guessing I’m at least slightly gluten sensitive), eating organic and local just plain tastes better (and makes me feel better knowing I’m doing something ‘green’), working out…well, we all know the benefits of that…..and the naturopath has given me some options outside medicine to even out my crazy mood swings (and oh by the way….working a heck of a lot better!).

I’ve only really meditated a few times, but I can already feel the difference.  You’re probably saying, “it’s just in your head”.  Well, yeah, it is.  And that’s where it’s supposed to be.  I’m calmer, more relaxed, more willing to play and SEE my kids, more focused and less “multitasked”.

Who knows if it’s meditation, any of a combination of the above changes I’ve made or simply a placebo affect.  But, you know what?  Who cares.

What about you?  What do you do to find your inner Zen?

Posted in MBA, ME, MOM, MRS | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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