Kelly Preston Has my Back?

On Friday morning I was watching Today while getting dressed (it was a day off, hence the late start) and Hoda and Kathy Lee interviewed Kelly Preston, aka Mrs. John Travolta. She had a new movie premiering on Lifetime over the weekend. They chitchatted about the movie and then either Hoda or Kathie Lee (I don’t remember, they are equally irritating and now shall be known as Koda) asked Kelly how she does it, meaning how does she balances working and her kids. Are. You. Kidding. Me?

Kelly talked about how John flies the whole family to location and blah, blah, blah. I am sorry but Kelly Preston has nothing in common with the regular working mom. I do not see Kelly stressed out because she is stuck in traffic and will not make it to daycare before 6:30pm, then incur the $20 fine for being late. Or having business meetings planned for the day only to wake up with a vomiting child and wondering if her employer will be angry (e.g. ding her come raise/bonus time) for calling into work.

Admittedly, I am very fortunate. I have a supportive spouse, flexible job and family nearby that is always offering to help. If I am perturbed with Today’s assumption that Kelly Preston can feel my working mom pain, then how about the women who have no support and no flexibility, is Kelly speaking to them? I can see where Hoda and Kathy Lee are coming from, they have more in common with Kelly Preston then I ever will. But to assume that Kelly Preston’s work/life balance advice can help out Mrs. Jane American is preposterous. If Kelly does not get paid because she is not working since the kids are ill, does she get behind on bills?

I would much rather see an interview between Koda and a woman who works at Big Box Store forty hours a week and have them ask her how she manages. She might tell them she does not manage, but the interview would be much more realistic to the vast majority of viewers. I know, I know what do I expect from Today? Apparently way too much.

Feeling Inadequate

Every month Southern Living shows up in my mailbox. For two to three days following its arrival I feel woefully inadequate. At no point in my lifetime will my house ever look as put together as the homes in the magazine do. My pie crust will never be as brown, my grout never that clean and my landscaping will never be that green and lush. I have expressed my self consciousness to my mother who bought me the “gift” (I secretly think it’s some kind of punishment for a long ago transgression) of a Southern Living subscription and keeps renewing it every year. She tries to remind me that people from the magazine come in and stage the homes before the photo shoot. That doesn’t help.

I eventually stop feeling inadequate and start getting pissed. Every stinking home is owned by either an architect, interior designer, or landscaper. Well hell, if I was any of those my house would look damn good too. Where are the regular people, the fellow insurance brokers and defense contractors? Let’s see their homes! Oh yeah, their homes still don’t have window treatments in the family room, or area rugs in the right places. And that hole they had to cut in the ceiling in the basement to fix a leak, yeah that’s not patched quite yet. And they probably have evidence of children and pets around the house. I love the photo shoots of houses where the homeowners admit to having multiple kids yet there is not one toy, shoe, stray Cheerio, or pet hairball laying around anywhere. Did they throw everything into a POD out front, including the kids and animals?

How about a magazine for real people where the furniture is mismatched (and not in a fun kitschy way), the laundry is piled up in the family room (I’m looking at mine now) and the only family heirloom is a sippy cup that rolled under the couch sometime last year.

A little pick me up

I admit, it doesn’t take much to make me giggle inside, or out loud like I did when I spied these cocktail napkins earlier today. My monthly moms group should appreciate these when I host in July. “Moms Group” probably sounds as if we’re sitting around doing macrame (whatever the hell that is), but it mostly consists of 10 or so of us sitting around a group member’s house on a Friday night once a month, eating appetizers and drinking. A LOT. TH calls this group the Drunk Moms Group. Therefore, these are perfect.

Pure Joy

The Husband, myself, #1 and #2 sons went to TH’s family reunion this weekend. It was held at an amusement park in Pennsylvania and the last time we went #1 son was 2 years old and #2 son was not even a consideration. This year #1 son was old enough to be really into the rides. The look on his face as he came down the log flume was worth the 4 hour drive up and down mountains, the expensive gas and being in BFE. (Do I hear banjos?) His mouth was a wide open grin, his eyes totally lit up and he could not contain his excitement and energy when he got off the ride.

It was one of those water rides where you come off completely soaked to the skin. As an adult the idea of sitting in wet underwear all day grosses me out, but to an almost 5 year old, it’s just proof that he was tall enough for the big rides. I told TH later than evening as we headed to our hotel, that is why we had kids, just to experience life as a little kid again. I think TH and I needed that, since we’ve been battling sleep deprivation for many months, to the extent that we were wondering why we just didn’t stick with cats.

Dealing with my issues

After another outburst this morning, my husband suggested I deal with my issues. My level of anger is not normal and it needs a better outlet. I agree with him to an extent, but really there are so many craptastic children’s programs on TV, I cannot help but yell at them.

Today’s victim was Oswald on Noggin. We’ve never see this show and after this morning’s episode I am banning it from future viewing. I appreciate shows that are witty, humorous and/or unique. Oswald was none of these. I got particularly enraged when Oswald’s dog Weenie (big surprise, the dog is a dachshund-real clever there) was trying to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that a woodpecker was very close to knocking down a support beam under a tent. Oswald spent 5 minutes saying “What’s wrong Weenie?” as Weenie very clearly was barking at the base of the support beam. Did Oswald look up once? No, he kept whining because he might lose the best pet contest. Luckily for Oswald and friends (and unlucky for me as I would have preferred that they all get crushed by the tent as it fell) Oswald finally pulled his head out of his ass and looked up. How frickin’ hard was that?

The few minutes that the above was taking place were incredibly painful to me, my preschooler would have figured out that he needed to look up about twenty minutes before big, stupid, teeny hat wearing Oswald. This is educational? Five hours later I am still incensed just thinking about it. Whoever created Oswald is an assclown.

So you want to work from home

Working from home sounds wonderful to many people since they envision bunny slippers, bons bons and Oprah reruns with a phone call or e-mail here and there. At least that is what I keep seeing when I peruse various message boards. That imagery is so…WRONG. I am in my 5th year of working from home and while it provides me with untold flexibility and the ability to work in jeans and a t-shirt when I am not running to a client meeting (then it’s all about the business suit) it’s not all sunshine and roses either.

Working from home is a fantastic benefit but what people tend to forget is that it’s a privilege not a right. If you’re a slacker in the officer you’ll most likely be a slacker at home. It’s also hard to turn off work when it’s at your fingertips 24/7. Many a morning as I am washing my hair (see #3 below) I have an “Oh Shit” moment where I suddenly think of a work issue. 99.9% of these can wait until my day officially begins, but because I can start my day downstairs I usually start earlier than needed. If I was only office based then the perceived catastrophe would have to wait.

Here are some other things to remember if you think working from home is the answer to your job woes:

1. I have childcare for the kids. Well, then why work from home you might say. Because it prevents me from having a commute and the kids can sleep a little later in the morning. My employer is not paying me to watch my own kids, though that would be a sweet deal. (Actually, after seeing my lame attempt at arts and crafts no one would pay me to watch children) Who wants to be in on a conference call and here a small voice calling his brother a poop head?

2. I have office hours. Since I have clients who need to reach me, I have set hours where I am available, so if I want to run off to Target or grab coffee that’s on my lunch break. I don’t get brownie points for sending an e-mail at midnight considering most of my clients leave their offices around 5pm.

3. I shower before working. Sitting around in PJs and bed head is just gross unless it’s Saturday morning and I am flipping through the Post. If I want to have professional dialogue I have to feel professional and that means a shower, clean clothes, hair done and yes even makeup. (though not whoreish)

4. I don’t spend my office hours cleaning my house. Again, I am not paid to clean my own house. I either do chores around my hours or it occurs when the cleaning crew comes every other week.

5. I am even more available than when I am in the office. For the first year I worked from home I was so paranoid that my employer would think I was doing #1-4 that I literally sat waiting for the phone to ring or e-mail to come. The Husband asked me if I ever took bathroom breaks when I used to work in the office and gently reminded me that I probably had bathroom privileges while working from home too. I have eased up on that considerably (a watched phone NEVER rings) but I am still 99% of the time immediately available to my clients, or I am calling them back within moments. Most of my regular clients know I work from home and I have heard not negative one peep from them, because my efficiency has never come into question. I did a lot of screwing around in the office (no, not that kind) talking about reality shows or running out to Starbucks. Those days are over and I get so much done.

6. My home office is hooked up. I have everything I need to conduct my job from home, no running off to FedEx to send a fax or printing papers at the library, everything is in my house.

7. I don’t have parties where I sell crap to friends in the evenings and on weekends. You know those companies and yes they may work for some, but they’re not my style. There are many work from home jobs that don’t require pandering to friends, relatives and other moms at daycare (my least favorite form). In that same vein:

8. I had a proven track record. Here’s a little secret, employers don’t knock on your front door and beg you to work from home when they don’t know you from Adam. Almost everyone I know who WAH got there by being an office employee for the same organization and doing a great job in the office.

Cleaning for the Cleaning Lady

Since our work servers are down to more severe weather (I swear locusts or the plague are coming any time now) I have a had a few spare moments this afternoon. I didn’t go get coffee, read a book or just veg. No I performed the most ridiculous chore know to mankind, according to The Husband (TH): cleaning for the cleaning company. They come every other week and the day before is spent straightening and putting away so they can actually tackle our dirt.

This drives TH batty, which in turn drives me batty. The crew has been coming for over 2 years, the every other week pick up is a part of our life, get over it. Admittedly I am the neat freak around here and according to TH “unless there are feces or roaches, I don’t care.” I am beyond horrified at this statement. I have been to his parents’ house many times, he was not raised by wolves and his parents’ house is always very neat.

Because we both work full time and want to spend the rest of the time with our kids, we sub out the cleaning part. This bugs me because I actually like to clean, but just can’t fit it in to my packed schedule. So instead we pay someone else and I threaten to crotch punch TH twice a month as he mocks the process of cleaning for the cleaning people.

Remember 120 Minutes?

I used to love watching this on Sunday nights when I was in high school and supposed to be asleep (that’s what my parents get for allowing a TV in my room), I think it was on around 11pm. I had started watching it so I could be cool and talk about the music with my high school crush, but even after that faded I continued to tune into the show. That was many years ago and I hadn’t thought about 120 minutes in forever.

Cue 4:30 this morning and VH1 Classic (WTF, how am I old enough to be “classic”). There before my eyes was Mathew Sweet with Girlfriend, Soundgarden with a baby faced Chris Cornell (the years have been VERY good to him-yum) and Siouxise with her Banshees. What a time warp. Of course watching 120 Minutes early this morning was a totally different experience altogether. I wasn’t watching so I could throw out band names while I leaned against my locker and made googly eyes at some high school senior with a crappy car (but boomin’ sound system of course) and loads of personal teenage baggage. I was watching because #2 son had been awake for about an hour and had grown tired of his dear old dad. My how times have changed.

I should be ashamed

I am sitting here gorging myself on Cheetos (baked for all you food police) and watching One Tree Hill (which I TiVoed while at work). #2 son has been in bed for a while and Husband is on #1 son bedtime duty tonight, so I am not neglecting my kidlets. I still feel guilty, as fake cheese clings to my finger tips. I am 31 years old, not 19 and home for summer break. Even worse, the One Tree Hill episode is from 2004. I got sucked in while on maternity leave and can’t get out. At least I haven’t seen these before, unlike the 90210 episodes I catch on Soapnet, which I can practically recite by heart. The only thing that could complete my bliss is a beer, but my level of slackness prevents me from removing my behind from this chair and going to the store.

You know your brain is mush

When your 4.5 year old kicks your ass in a memory game, and then points and laughs. Yes I realize that a card with a monkey does not match a card with a whale on it. So what? He taunts me with things like “too bad, so sad.” Where did he pick up this banter? I can assure you we are above that in this house. He obviously gets if from the kids in his preschool class, hoodlums all of them. (Says the woman who is going to practice Hungry Hippos after #1 son’s bedtime so she wins tomorrow’s round of games.)

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