Confessions of a BadAssMama - The Business Trip Edition

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I love my children, but nothing sets the reset button for me like a business trip.

Let me explain.

Before having kids, I viewed business trips as a necessary evil. Sure, it was nice to have a great meal with clients, visit a new town and earn hotel or frequent flier miles (cry me a river, right?). But, truth be told, I'd rather be at home in my own bed. Fast forward after 2 kids and roughly 4 years subsisting on a deprivation diet of less then 5 hours of sleep per night (and, no, those are not 5 uninterrupted hours), a business trip can become mama's best friend.

Let's think about it:

  • All of your meals are prepared, served and cleaned up by someone else
  • Nine times out of ten you are NOT driving a minivan
  • You rarely have to check the shoulder of your suit for remnants of your kid's breakfast or milk dribble (unless, of course, the stains are already set in and you didn't have a chance to make it to the dry cleaners before your flight...)
  • There are generally next to no tantrums on any given day 
  • Each night, you retire to a quiet hotel room that someone else comes to clean each morning
  • Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can video chat with your kids each day until you get home
  • You can actually sit and complete an entire meal while the food is still hot
So, I confess. The BadAssMama looks forward to most business trips. While I try to avoid traveling for more than 4 consecutive days in any given month and NEVER on the weekends (weekends are sacred at BadAssMama Central), the thought of getting on a plane with the oasis of a clean, quiet hotel room waiting for me on the other side makes anything that I have to manage during the actual business of the trip worth while. 

I love my kids, but every once in a while mama needs a break...

Eat Your Heart Out, Mary Poppins!

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Before children, I always dreamed that I would be the type of mother who would puree my own organic baby food, speak French and Spanish to each child, ban television from our home and spend every free hour doing educational projects or arts & crafts with my perfect kids.

Fast forward nearly six years and two English-only speaking children who at times consider Dora the best babysitter EVER, I’ve come to grips with the fact that I am no Mary Poppins. I am a loving, well-intentioned, over-committed and at times frazzled working mother. I read with my boys every night, review homework and make sure that they live a relatively well-rounded existence. But let’s be real – at the end of the day, who the hell has time to plan, purchase and actually make homemade science projects or hand puppets with their kids? (And if you do, I really don’t want to hear about it because I have enough mommy-guilt as it is…).

Well, now The BadAssMama has a secret weapon – The Wonder Box! The great folks over at education.com sent me two Wonder Boxes to test drive with my boys (ages 3 and 5). We started with the aptly named Mad Scientist Wonder Box. The boys loved the Magnet Magic experiment, exploring the house to find which objects would stick to the magnet. My favorite moment? Hearing the big boy upstairs telling the three-year-old, “I told you, wood is NOT magnetic!” I loved that they could use the magnet as a special surprise at the end of the cleverly-disguised sight word teaching bingo game (the bingo chips were rimmed with metal, so the kids could sweep them up with the magnet at the end of each round).

We used our powers of observation with the I Spy Bottle, observing how the letter beads (another nod to literacy skills) and sequins (nice touch) interacted differently with the corn syrup and water in a bottle. The Fun Pack activity included shape-matching stickers and fun facts about volcanoes, dinosaurs and even an octopus!

We ended the day with an incredible kitchen chemistry experiment with the Bubble Bread recipe. I love that the recipe was simple and kid friendly (only 5 ingredients!), and my boys loved being part of the action.

Next weekend, we’re on to the Once Upon A Time Wonder Box, focused on reading skills. (Spoiler alert: my five-year-old already laid claim to the Story Cape and customized it with the fabric crayons included in the kit!).

My kids may not sit down to a homemade, organic meal each night, listening to Mozart while playing Spanish Scrabble. But I can watch their eyes grow wide in surprise as they learn about the power of magnets and learn that science is all around us thanks to my handy dandy Wonder Box. Learn more at http://www.education.com/wonder-box/

The Journey to Joy...an update

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Are YOU following your joy?

Two months into the last year of my thirties, I am still on my journey to embracing the joy in the everyday. But I must admit, I had a bit of a relapse last week. After the excitement of prepping for Fashion's Night Out and Back to School, I dove right into an incredibly busy week of work leading up to a major partner meeting and days of double and triple-booked meetings. If that weren't enough, I was thrown an unexpected and unbelievably dramatic loop on the personnel front at work that knocked me out of my mellow for a bit.

I'm proud to say that this week I am back on the path of chasing my joy! It's not going to be perfect. I'm not going to transform into Mary Kay Sunshine overnight (I do enjoy a little snark with my morning coffee, thank you very much). But I do want to practice mindfully living and enjoying my life, every day. I have been so blessed on so many fronts. I don't want to allow the day-to-day busy-ness of life as a working mother steal my joy. Especially when life can change (or end...) at any moment. Let's embrace the joy. Right now. Every day.

Join me! Follow my YEAR OF JOY right here on the blog. You can click the link on my main page, or follow right here.... http://www.thebadassmamachronicles.com/p/a-year-of-joy.html?showComment=1348233126100

Family Fun with the Harlem Globetrotters

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Looking for some great family entertainment? Love to get a discount? BadAssMama fans can get $7 off each ticket for the Harlem Globetrotters season opener at the Barclays Arena in Brooklyn. Use the code BAMAMA.

The BadAssMama will be in the house with my whole crew on 10/7, courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters. I hope to see YOU there!

http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com/event/harlem-globetrotters-grand-opening-barclays-center




Blatant Parental Bragging

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My big boy was featured on his MMA school's website this week for the incredible transformation he's made over the past 7 months. I'm so proud!

I also want to give a shout out to the incredible instructors at Tiger Schulmann. They are NOT KIDDING when they state that Angel could not sit still for 5 minutes (and even licked the mat...) early on in his training. They are patient, caring and incredible instructors. Shout out to Joshu Jobin George for his incredible work with my son!

http://www.rockvillecentremma.com/5-year-rising-star-rockville-centre-ny-martial-arts-program/

Confessions of a BadAssMama - The Tiger Mom Edition

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I hate it when my husband is right.

For weeks he's been kindly, gently reminding me to not be so hard on Angel. To cut the kid a break because, lest we forget, he's only five.

Apparently, I didn't get the memo.

It's also becoming increasingly clear that the more violently I object to his completely-appropriate-and-somewhat-sensitively-delivered reminders, the more I need to actually stop and pay attention to them.

As much as I like to tout the new-and-improved BadAssMama 2.0 who lives for the moment, chases her joy and dares to design her best life, I constantly battle my borderline-OCD-perfectionist-straight-A-student tendencies - particularly when it comes to raising my kids. Now, one would think that for someone so intent on getting things right I would take more care in how I address and encourage my children when it comes to academic achievement or appropriate behavior. That I would go out of my way to be nurturing and supportive, consistently modeling the behavior that I am so earnestly attempting to teach them.

Yeah, not so much.

If it walks like a tiger, looks like a tiger and growls like a tiger, there's a strong possibility that you're dealing with a tiger. And, despite my best intentions, I must admit that The BadAssMama is a bit of a Tiger Mom. OK...maybe a lot. I want my kids to focus and be well behaved, to achieve academically and excel in their chosen extracurriculars (for Angel it's piano and karate...Victor's not quite at the choosing-after-school-activities phase).

The problem is, when Angel's behavior (and I'll be honest, my Tiger Mom-like tendencies are focused squarely on my first born since in my mind he's "old enough to know better" at the ripe old age of five) does not fit into my borderline-OCD-perfectionist model of appropriate, I can get a bit demanding. Some might even call me a bully. I don't yell (well, at least not often) or hit, but I do become very intense and demanding. I remind him that he knows how to do this. I tell him to stop the drama and just do what he's supposed to do. All the while forgetting that he's a five year old boy.

Amy Chua was villified for pushing her kids to achieve greatness. I'll be honest, I was right there with most of you calling her crazy for making her kids to practice piano for hours and frowning upon any non-academic or classical music related extracurriculars. I let my kids go on playdates. I love that they are social and physically active. I'm not trying to make them live up to some unfulfilled dream of my life, but to equip them with the tools to be the best version of themselves that they can be. But a big part of me understands what she was trying to accomplish. She saw (or tried to forcibly plant) a seed of greatness in her daughters and did everything in her power to help it grow into a mighty tree of achievement. Her approach was reproachable, but I truly believe she had her kids' future options at heart.

Or maybe I'm just an overachieving bully too. 

What Matters Most

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It's so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Laundry, dishes, homework. Meetings, presentations, business trips. Bath, books, bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. We can get so caught up in our to-do list, that we forget what life is really about. Too often, we sacrifice what matters most for what matters least.

Well, at least I do.

I'm embarrassed to say that many a day in my early years as a mom, I couldn't wait for nap time so I could actually get things done. Sure, I loved my kids but there were emails to read! Groceries to buy! Bills to pay! Too often I would drive around the neighborhood, anxiously waiting for the boys to go to sleep already so I could go about the business of my day. How many sweet moments did I miss? How many memories, lost forever? And for what - to chase the myth of the empty in box? 

While I'm far from perfect. The BadAssMama is learning to slow down and enjoy time with my family. Nearly six years have gone by in a flash, and my teeny preemie boy is a kindergartener who takes karate and hand-to-hand grappling (much to his mother's dismay, he's quick and very good at it). I can barely recognize my sweet baby boy, who just yesterday was nursing and snuggling in my lap, and today is a long, lanky three year old who insists that he's really four. 

Gretchen Rubin got it right. The days are long, but the years are short. 

With the new school year, we have a new morning routine at BadAssMama Central. Instead of racing to jump on the 7:32am train, I take a later train into the city and drop my boys to school. Every day. While Angel can get there as early as 8am, the nursery doors don't open until 8:30. When I first heard this, my instinct was to put them in before care so I could get to work early (the consultant in me still believes that I should be at my desk at the crack of dawn, even though I am ALWAYS there at least 90 minutes before anyone else...). Instead, I decided to choose the "we" over the "me". I could take the 8:48 train and still get to work by our stated start time of 9:30. This was much later than MY usual start, but I could certainly still make it work (I'd found myself there closer to 9:30 most mornings during summer camp and the world didn't come to an end).

It's only been a week, but I now find mornings to be my favorite time of day. The boys have invented an entirely new morning routine. They wake around 6 and come to snuggle in mommy's bed. We brush our teeth and the boys get dressed while I set up the next day's clothes and PJs for the night. After inspection (I found Victor's underwear on backwards yesterday...), we head downstairs for a good breakfast so they have enough energy to play and learn at school. I finish any odds and ends for lunch then head upstairs to finish getting dressed for work. We head out early, so that the boys can take a morning walk with their friends before it's time to line up (an incredible tradition at their school - great for getting the wiggles out!). Angel goes to line up around 8:25 and I take one last slow lap around the courtyard with Victor before walking him to his classroom at 8:30. 

I love that the boys are excited to get to school each morning. I love watching them interact with each other and their new friends. A sweet and extremely well spoken 1st grader even introduced himself to me today ("Hello, Angel's Mom? I'm Dale. I'm in first grade and I know Angel"). We count Transformers on the drive to school (Camaros and tractor trailers), and pray for a good day. While we still need to stick to a schedule, most days the time passes slowly and I am able to truly connect with my boys in a way that was never possible in our previous morning rush. I love watching their little personalities develop and listening to their opinions on everything from what we should eat for breakfast to what they might do at school today.

I love my new morning routine. It's hard to teach and old dog new tricks, but I will be forever grateful that I took the chance to switch my morning schedule to make more time for what matters most. 

WWYD?

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What would you do if you weren't afraid to fail?

I can't pinpoint the first time that I heard this question, but then like now it shakes me to my very core. For the answer to this question is the key to your true passion.

No, I'm not trying to get all existential on you. I'm just in the mood for reinvention. I think it's something about the start of a new school year. New clothes. new backpacks. New teachers. New friends. A clean start, a chance to start anew. And most importantly, the opportunity to reinvent yourself.

Don't like who you are today? Dare to be different tomorrow! Sound too simple? Not at all. Work with me here. Say you've spent so much time focused on your job (or your kids or your housecleaning or whatever it is on you"must do" list) that you've neglected to spend time with friends, you're yelling at your kids, your butt is the size of a wall and you haven't had sex with your husband since bell bottoms were first en vogue. You know that you're not living the life of your dreams, but you feel powerless to change it.

So what do you do? Wallow in the mess that has become of your life? Hell no! You can do something about it. While it is damned near impossible to change EVERYTHING at once, you can create the life of your dreams one small step at a time. Here's how to start:


  • Make a list of the things that are most important to you - time with friends, physical and spiritual health, peace and quiet, a strong relationship, a career that you are passionate about - whatever
  • Take a close look at how you spend your time. A great tool to help you get a handle on this is the book 168 Hours. Track how you spend every 30 minutes of your day for 2 weeks - including sleeping, commuting, eating and pissing away time on the internet (not this site of course....). Just like that $1000 per year you can spend on fancy coffee, you will find hours of time each week that you can use to build the life of your dreams rather than watching yet another Law & Order marathon
  • Now here's the fun part - look at the list of what's important to you and add one thing to your schedule each week. Maybe the first week it's carving out 20 minutes for a walk, or a phone call with a girlfriend you've been neglecting. Add something new each week.
  • You won't build your best life overnight, but by taking a close look at whats important to you, how you spend your time, and working to bring them into better balance - you can get one step closer.
Over the next few months, I will dedicate at least one post per week to helping YOU dare to design your BEST life. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Don't waste another day living anything less than the life of your dreams. Dare to design YOUR best life NOW. 

Let's get there together...