Sunday, July 31, 2011

Work-Life Balance...that thing we call "life"

I don’t have any mom-friends in Minneapolis that work full time outside the home. It can be a little lonely, feeling like have a huge portion of my life that is so foreign to so many of my friends. I sometimes feel like I am out on a branch, alone. Of course we are all overwhelmed in one way or another, and trying to walk that fine line between “family time” and “me time," to strike that perfect balance, but it’s hard to not have anyone who can totally relate. Anyway, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on work life balance, keep in mind I am not a writer, so these thoughts may be kind of random. I'm learning how to balance everything as I go!

One thing I learned recently is that people can be "Amazing at 3, Great at 5." This refers to the number of “hats” we are wearing. What this means is that if you try to wear more than 5 hats, you are likely either not going to wear it well, or your other hats won't fit quite as well. I think there is some wiggle room for each individual. For example I wear 4 hats – Wife, mother, employee, and CPA student. Every time I try to take on something else, maybe volunteer my time, or try to get into a new exercise routine, something else suffers a bit. (Of course if any of you are like me, you understand that the roles of Wife and Mother also mean by default you are the household Accountant, Financial Manager, Events and Activities Director, Social Coordinator, and Dietician). I suggest that you take some time to think about what or number is and evaluate whether you are taking on too much. I have found that 4 is all I can realistically wear. I can try to be a dedicated runner, or a very social person, always available to hang out, but I can only do those things at the expense of my other hats.

In all honesty, I would rather be wearing 3 hats, and then the option of changing around that 4th hat, depending on the day, but that's not life at the moment. Which brings be to another takeaway, some of our hats are just momentary. I won't always be studying. After I pass these exams (so like at minimum 9 months from now...), I won't be studying for a LOOONG time. I'll always be a mother, but my kids (sadly) won't always need me like they do now, etc. So enjoy the roles you are in now. They'll always be changing. If you don't think you are wearing enough hats, pick up some more!

The other thing on my mind is getting rid of the guilt. Mom’s LISTEN UP—I’m talking to you here! We all have that guilt! We feel guilty when we have to work late, we feel guilty when we serve mac and cheese or chicken nuggets for the second time that week, or when we drop our kids off at daycare or school with a low grade fever. Yes, I’ve done the last one!

So how can we remove the guilt? I think the answer is different for everyone, but the most important thing is that we all need to be OK with the choices we make. I know that's the answer for me.

I will not be home to take my kids to library story time, but I do read books to them every night. I can't make the birthday parties that are thrown on a random Tuesday, but we can still celebrate birthdays by picking up a special gift for a friend. I can't make 4 course gourmet meals, but I can sneak ground up spinach into their spaghetti sauce. I'm learning to be OK with these things because I firmly believe that my choice to be a working mom makes me a better mom, and as a better mom, I can be a better role model for my daughter and my son. These are choices I have made and I am happy with all of them, while I realize that many of my choices do no resonate with others, my being okay with them, is what is going to give me the confidence to shape my life into what I want it to be.

Are you okay with the decisions you've made? Do you wear them proudly? Are you wearing too many hats?

Friday, July 29, 2011

About a Pet

Yesterday, Lacey, my 3 year old, found 2 small frogs at daycare. I’m sure you have seen this type hopping around, they are probably less than 1 inch in length. Of course she catches them and calls them her friends. She also doesn’t understand how fragile a 1 inch frog is, and she almost immediately kills it, so now she has a limp frog, which is still special to her. This means they have to come home with us. Now, I didn’t pick her up yesterday. Mike did, and I guess she refused to get in the car, until he let her put the dead frogs in her backpack.

When she got home she was SO EXCITED. (I am going to stop right here and tell you that I refuse to think about the fact that she was carrying around dead frogs, and then eating a snack, with her hands, on the way home. Note: keep antibacterial wipes in the car). She couldn’t wait to show me the frogs. I must have thought “tell”, but she indeed meant “show” so when she reached into her backpack clutching the dead frogs, I nearly had a heart attack.

I’m not sure what scared her more, the fact that I was screaming about 2 dead frogs she was clutching, or the fact that I was telling her they were dead. It was very traumatizing for all of us. Lots of raised, freaked out voices, and crying ensued. Finally Mike forced her to release her grip of death on the frogs, and into the trash they went. And I forced her and miles to the bathroom to scrub those little hands, a few times. She was so sad, because these were her special friends and she loved them. She wanted to take care of them.

So that made me think that we should get a pet.

A goldfish- cheap, but she would probably try to carry it around, therefore killing it. And I know I can’t handle another dead creature in her hands. Plus I have visions of fighting over who gets to feed the fish (or secretly feeding the fish when I am out of the room and fish flakes and a spilled fish bowl everywhere).

A hamster/guinea pig- also cheap. I don’t want to clean a cage though, and I certainly don’t want to have an animal that can get lost in my house, not into finding a dead hamster under the couch! Or, for that matter, I am not into an animal that can die if it accidentally gets stepped on. Pretty likely in my house.

A cat- I don’t like cats.

A dog- expensive, but we want one anyway, maybe now? Then I started reading about leaving them alone during the day, the cost, the risk that even the best kid-friendly dogs, may never really be kid friendly, it’s a chance you take. Plus, puppies are a ton of work, but I read if you have kids it’s best to have the dog introduced to them as a puppy. I have visions of chewing and jumping going on. Not sure I am okay with that. Then what size of dog. I want a smaller dog, like 15 pounds. Mike wants a dog he can run with. I want a smaller dog so it can’t knock over the kids as easily, mike thinks the kids would hurt the small dog accidentally. I want a golden doodle, but they are over $1000. I thought about going with a golden retriever, but apparently they shed a lot. Ugh. Dog on hold.

I asked Lacey last night when I was putting her to bed if she wanted a pet to take care of. “Yes!” She said. “ I want a unicorn.” I started to tell her that unicorns can’t be pets, when she interrupted me and said “I want a purple unicorn pillow pet.”

I’m sold.

Friday, July 22, 2011

week one down!

Well, our "Staycation" Miles got pink eye from the Children's Museum. We spent Saturday running him to Target Clinic, and Sunday Mike and I were stressing about Monday. Fail.


First week at Target HG is over! What a relief. It's always nice to have that first week over. To be honest, I didn't do much, except drink a lot of water...let me explain.

Target has it's own culture. Like it's VERY OWN culture. First, they are VERY into well-being. That's where the water comes in. We are all given these 32oz Target water bottles, and shown the water stations. Which are everywhere. Drink up!

The next thing that is interesting is the cafe. All of the campus locations have their own Target Cafe, but this isn't your typical cafe food. First, part of the cafe is like walking through the produce/deli section at Target. All of the Archer Farms products you can think of. The other part is like high end cafeteria food. Labeled in categories such as: Vegetarian; Vegan; Fresh from the Farm: Well Balanced; and Low Carb.

Speaking of things at headquarters. Target also has a bank, clinic, Starbucks, post office, merchandise store, printing place (think kinkos), dry cleaning, and Wells Fargo ATM's at their HQ location. It's literally a city in a building.

Of course all of that is nice and great perks, but you sacrifice not knowing everyone. I've always worked in offices where every face has a name, so this will be a little strange, but overall I will like it!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Staycation...sort of.

At the current moment, Mike and I are both unemployed. Which actually is super cool because it will only last until Monday. Plus, this is the first weekend in over 3 years, that he has off AND he won't be getting calls from Jamba Juice (even when he wasn't working he was ALWAYS getting called). Plus its going to be 95 degrees out, so if he were working, he would be working FOREVER.

We wanted to go somewhere or do something, but we were out of town last weekend, my parents just had the kids for a week, and we don't want to spend much money. So staycation it is!

Today we were going to start by meeting some friends at the lake, but as of right now it's dark and stormy out...hopefully that clears up soon. Then we were going to go to the zoo. The Como Zoo, which is free, but also sort of sad, but yeah, free.

Tomorrow I think we are going to hit up the Children's Museum in St. Paul. I've only been once, when I was a kid, and I distinctly remember it. I LOVED IT. I know the kids will adore it. I also want to hit up Teddy Bear park in Stillwater, so hopefully we can do that too.

Otherwise we are going to be doing the regulars...laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping. Basically getting everything ready for our "first days of work" I hope I can remember to take a photo of us, I mean how many couples start new jobs on the same day??!

I'll maybe surprise you by bringing my camera and posting pictures? Wouldn't that be a shocker!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vanity Sizing

Did you know that today's size 8 is the size of a 14 in the 1970's.

You maybe didn't want to know that. But some of us [me], cannot find clothes to fit. Mike didn't believe me until I tried on a Size 0 work pants from Limited and it was seriously LAUGHABLE. I looked completely ridiculous. My options include nothing outside of high end designer jeans/dress pants that are $220, and while $220 jeans look super cute and I am positive I would like them, I can think of a million other things to spend the money on.

Gap Kids always has jeans...with elastic adjustable waists...eww + embarrassing.

I am actually starting to wonder if shoe designers are also "vanity sizing." I used to wear a 6.5-7, then a 6, and now comfortably a 5.5. It's the strangest thing. Also, Mike, my husband, weighed 155 when we met 6 years ago. At that time he wore a 33"-34" waist. Today? He still weighs in at 155 and is down to a 30" waist.

Anyway...back to my point. Today I was at GAP and they were having amazing sales on jeans. GAP does make Size 00, which is still a bit large, but manageable (please, please, please shrink a bit...what can I say, I have no hips). So I bought 4 pairs of jeans for $35 (okay so wearing 00 has its advantages, like they always have your size). They were originally $70 each, so I was pumped.

Plus I got a pair of city ballet flats for $4.99...originally $40.

$320 of stuff for $39.98. So get yourself down to GAP and get some deals.

On a side note, in Minnesota we seriously wear long-sleeves for 9 months out of the year...all year if you work in an air conditioned office. I am desperately waiting for "fall" stuff to come out so I can buy some new work clothes!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Everything coming together.

I guess I can officially spill the beans. I got a new job! Yep, that's the BIG news. Sorry it isn't more exciting for everyone, but it is VERY exciting for me!

I'll be working for Target Corp.

Let's start at the beginning...

It was nearing the end of March and I was eagerly awaiting the end of busy season, a hefty job offer, and starting the CPA exams. Mike and I also had saved up a good chunk of money for a down payment on a house and we started looking.

Of course we found one. Although it was a short sale. We figured that was okay because we really liked the house and decided we were willing to wait. I am not sure how the short sale process works in each state, but in Minnesota, you and the seller sign a purchase agreement and then it goes to the bank for approval. The seller only signs one PA, so if you aren't the first offer they sign, you're considered a back up offer. We wanted to be first. We signed the PA on April 1st.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. Busy season is over and I am heading into my exit interview. I did not get an offer. No one did. We got the "we aren't sure what our fall staffing needs are in this economy. We will be waiting to present offers at the end of the summer. If you were to be given an offer you would start in January 2012, not this fall." Honestly, I wasn't completely depressed about it. I mean working 65 hours a week for a few months is crappy. But I still wanted the security of knowing I had a job! Plus, we had that signed PA on a house that we really wanted...

On that SAME DAY that I didn't get the offer, Jamba Juice franchised the Minneapolis stores. This was something we knew was coming, but didn't know what the effects would be until it actually happened. My biggest fear was that we wouldn't have health insurance. When we found out they were offering insurance we were thrilled. Until we found out that for an entire family, it was going to be $700 per paycheck. We just about had a heart attack and decided to drop it. We also made to much to qualify for state insurance, so we were stuck.

So I started job-hunting. Have you tried looking for a job as an entry-level professional in this economy? My goodness it's rough! Plus I was/am picky. I turned down a few lower paying jobs, but at the end of the day couldn't find anything I needed. Then, at the beginning of June our realtor called us and said the bank wanted to close on the house June 30. This sucked. We went ahead and got all the paperwork together on our end and just waited for written confirmation from the 2nd and 3rd mortgages. We waited, and waited, and waited some more. We are still waiting. So the June 30th close date never happened.

Also happening during June was interviews! I finally quit applying to so many places and decided to just focus on studying. I was contacted by the MN Department of Revenue as well as Target. I went through the interview process with both. The Revenue job was on hold since a government shut-down was a possibility (and subsequently happened...and is happening). So that left the Target job, which might as well be like interviewing at Microsoft or Google. Every stage of the interview I thought I had failed. But I kept getting pushed through round after round. It was the most stressful 3 weeks of my life! Finally on June 30th they called and gave me an offer! I was/am thrilled. This means 40 hour work weeks, benefits, NO BUSY SEASON, and tons and tons of opportunity. Plus, 10% discount on everything! Oh, and Target pays well! They are matching what I would have been making at the firm! It also means that as we keep waiting for the house, we can keep on saving and building up our savings account in order to have more to work with once we move in.

Also, ironically the day after I accepted the offer I got my student loan statement in the mail. For the first time it hit me. I have a lot of student loans (that I am confident I can pay off in the next 18 months), I don't have the option of working right now. I realized that I gave up the option to stay at home in April of 2009 when I went back to school and took out loans. The Lord knew what he was doing, giving me that offer just before I got that final statement in the mail!

Finally, Mike is leaving Jamba Juice. He also interviewed during June and accepted an offer to manage at a co-op. I'm excited that he'll be working more closely with food, which is his passion, especially natural and organic food.

So, things are finally coming together. It was a rough couple of months for us with all of the unknowns. We were definitely stretched faith-wise. I learned so much about the faithfulness and the goodness of God. He really does have everything ordained for us, and I am learning to trust His timing above mine. He is the reason everything is working out for us. Believe me, I did not get this job on my own!

So, now I will take some time to drink my lemonade. Everything feels like it is clicking for us right now and I am going to drink it up. Because the good times, just like the bad times, come and go. I may as well enjoy them while they are here!

Friday, July 1, 2011


Remember my post about wanting June to be over?

Well it is, and I have some happy things to report in the next week! Sorry to make people wait, but you'll just have to!

Anyway, on this first day of July there are a few interesting things going on in Minnesota, namely the government shut down. No one can come to an agreement and it's becoming a blame game. Unfortunately now all the State Parks, rest areas, and DMV's are closed. Perfect right before the 4th of July weekend. Also 36,000 people are without jobs, and those same people, plus many more in the state, are also without health care. I heard on the radio this morning that everyone with state funded heathcare will be turned away for treatment unless it is life threatening. It's really sad.

It's also almost 100 degrees out. I swear, here in MN we get the craziest weather extremes! Where else in the country can it be -40 and 6 months later be 100? Not many places. Although this heat sucks and I would DIE without AC, I can't say I totally mind it. I mean, I would much rather deal with 100 degrees than dealing with freezing cold and icy snowy roads!

Mike's brother and his wife and their 3 kids are moving to Australia on Sunday, so they are up here right now. My parents are coming up tomorrow to celebrate my birthday, my birthday is on the 4th, I take my first section of the CPA exam on the 6th, and Mike's little brother is getting married on the 8th. So between finding time to spend with all these people, I am trying desperately to study, and keep my house clean. It is good! BUT CRAZY.

So now I am off to create a spreadsheet to see how quickly I can pay off my student loans. I'll study some more, and then go shopping for a new dress for the wedding next week! Happy Friday!