Thoughts on Grandparents

Grandparents are special to us in ways that parents can never be… my grandparents always made sure that I had pancakes each morning we were together (if that’s what I wanted). They made sure that I had lots of fun and they didn’t worry too much about discipline. After all, they got to return me after a while and it wasn’t their job to worry about the consequences. This was the best part about being a grandchild, the unconditional love and acceptance no matter what.

Well, last week my beloved grandfather passed away. My grandfather, Martin, and grandmother, Dorothy, had been married for almost 65 years. My poor grandpa had such terrible health issues his last few years here on earth and I know he’s happy to be rid of his aging and decrepit body. I know that it’s hard for my grandma to imagine her life without her other half. Thankfully the doctor says her health is great but I know that this stress is a lot for her.

Today I pray for my grandma, my aunt, my uncle, and all who are dealing with the death of my grandpa. Life is difficult and beautiful at once. We mourn the loss of one and the future of another. Martin was a hardworking man who loved his bride so very much. Their example of Christian fidelity has served as an inspiration for me all my life. My grandmother is a strong woman with a good church family and I know she will make it through this but it doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.

Love you so much, grandpa.

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Some Things I’ve Been Thinking About

Hey y’all! Craig and I have been busy baby makin’ and I just passed my big audit for work (another excellent progress report!) so needless to say I’ve been a bit preoccupied. In other news we got a new car… YAY! Here’s a pic of my beautiful new baby. We really enjoy her and have named her Bindi (yes, that’s Steve Irwin’s daughter’s name). Since she’s an Outback we figured we needed something Australian and Bindi is Aborigine for little girl. Cute.

Also, our first baby, Jethro, has commandeered the guest room bed. He loves to sleep with his head on a pillow (or arm rest, etc.) and evidently the couch is too far away from us at night. This is a new thing he’s doing but he’s simply precious. We love that little dude and can’t imagine our lives without him. I mean, look how precious he is! I can’t get mad at that fluffy guy for wanting a little comfort.

Next up, we bought a new vacuum. My other vacuum finally bit the dust and after quite a lot of research and not wanting to spend a fortune we settled on the Shark Navigator. So far, so good. It really performs well. Jethro likes it (as referenced by the picture below). I mean, just look at that happy face!
In other news, I’ve really been struggling with not commenting on or posting about every little political and/or cultural war happening right now. I’ve definitely posted on facebook a few times too many for some of my friends but it’s hard to keep my mouth shut when I feel so passionate. There are two sides to every story and I feel like some of my “friends” keep speaking from their limited point of view where they cannot possibly understand the whole picture.

Besides that, most of these “friends” call themselves “Christian” and as a Christian I find it hard to stomach their intolerance. From what I have read of the Jesus I follow, He would have been the first to sit down with the “sinner” over dinner and really get to know them and pour LOVE into them. Yet, these very people who claim to be His disciples are those who are the loudest in judgment and hate. It breaks my heart.

So, I will continue to post things I think help open up the debate and help to cross barriers and I will continue to do my best to LOVE my neighbor (John 13:35). That’s all I can really do, eh?

Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about going back to work once this future baby is born. I know that children of working mothers are more successful and I know that as a working mother I will be a better role model for success outside the home, yada yada, but I can’t help but fear the coming day when I drop my child off at day-care and head off to work. My friend, Emily, recently had this discussion with me. She always thought that she’d have no problem going back to work but now that her baby is here in her arms she’s finding it incredibly difficult.

I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. I know that financially we just really cannot afford to have me stay at home. I also know that the benefits I receive through my state employee position are unlike anything I could acquire on my own. I’m praying that something flexible will arise when the time comes and I will feel greater strength in leaving my child with others. Too soon to tell but I will continue to pray about it anyway.

So, to end this random smattering of thoughts on this hump day I leave you with another picture of my boy Jethro when he was outside playing in his pool. I mean, what parent doesn’t shove pictures of their baby in your face every other second? Just wait until we have a human baby… HA! It’s almost the weekend y’all! Chin up!

  

  

Get Stuff Done

It’s a challenge… staying focused and getting tasks finished in a timely manner. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming when you’re looking at a giant to-do list and wondering how you’re going to get it all done. As the great Tina Fey pointed out, confident women get stuff done folks. Productivity is measured in the efficiency of output. The more efficient you are at tasks the more productive you are. How you manage your space and your time and your confidence directly influences your ability to get things accomplished. I love what Tina Fey says about the confidence to contribute your thoughts and ideas, “Always make sure you’re adding to the discussion.” Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. If you wait until you’ve “perfected” yourself you’ll never make any real contribution. We’re all works in progress. Believe in your ability to make it happen! With that said, I wanted to take a minute today to share with you what I feel are 5 essentials for productivity.

  1. First, make sure that you set yourself up for success by being prepared (yes I was a Girl Scout). Do your research, know your job, be the best you can be for the task at hand. For me, this means being sure that I’m up to date on any changes to our system or processing and making sure that my files are in order. I’m constantly bettering myself and I believe this contributes to my efficiency. If you don’t know what you’re doing, how can you possibly do it well? Take time for continuing education and improvement. Be sure that you are “sharpening the saw.”
  2. Second, set up your workstation (wherever that is) for optimum efficiency by having everything clean, sorted, and in its place. My workplace had a consultant come in and evaluate our workstations to help us determine how we should be sitting and where our monitors and keyboard and mouse should be located for optimal ergonomics. I am a shorty so my seat sits closer to the ground, therefore I utilize a keyboard tray to keep my arms and wrists at the correct angle. I know many people who work from home and set up their laptop on their laps. This is terrible for your back and neck. Do your research to see how you should set up your environment to achieve optimum ergonomics and watch your productivity level increase!
  3. Next, utilize background noise to limit distractions. I know this might sound counter-intuitive but it works. Although high levels of noise can impair your creativity, low levels actually help you concentrate. The same way that white noise can help folks sleep, the same can be said for helping you stay focused while awake. For me, I like to play a low level of background noise in the form of music. The key is to be sure the volume is low… not too loud to distract but enough to blend in the background and drown out the random noises that interrupt your concentration. Create a Pandora or Spotify station of relaxing classical music or choose a playlist of singer/songwriters that can just fade into the background. You’ll be amazed at how a little background noise can help you become more efficient.
  4. Then, take frequent breaks! Don’t get so caught up in your work that hours have gone by and you haven’t gotten up from your desk. I’m the worst at this. I know that I perform better when I take breaks to stretch and walk around. Even if you cannot make the time to physically walk away from the task at hand be sure to give yourself a mental break. Take five minutes and cruise Facebook (just don’t get lost and forget to come back to your task). If you have to, set a timer to remind you when the break is over and when you need to get back to work. Frequent mental (and physical when possible) breaks help you to remain better focused and to complete the task in an efficient and timely manner. It may seem counter-productive to take time away from the task but research has shown it’s the best thing you can do.
  5. Finally, reward yourself for a job well done. When you have a clear finish line and a clear reward you’re more likely to stick to the task and see it through completion. Keep track of your to-do list and check off the items as they’re completed. A big line drawn through the task can be reward in itself. If you need more motivation be sure to set yourself up for success by utilizing appropriate rewards such as scheduling a lunch date to celebrate the completion of an important goal. I bring lunch from home each day and try hard not to spend money on lunch during the week, however, when I know that I have a challenging task to complete I’ll schedule a lunch date with a friend so I have that to look forward to when I’m finished. It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments.

So, what about you? What do you do to stay focused and to maximize your productivity? Let me know your thoughts and feel free to share this information if you found it useful. If you need more inspiration, set yourself up for success with this post I wrote a few years ago. Make it a great day!

MissCaron

A Working Mom (Outside The Home)

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole work-life balance and the idea that working outside the home can actually be a good thing for me and my future offspring. I read an article recently about children from households where the mother worked outside the home (no matter the total hours) and the impact that has on their future.

Women whose moms worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time, according to research by Kathleen McGinn and colleagues.

This is encouraging news! I believe that showing children that women can be successful outside the home helps them believe that they, too, can be successful outside the home. Not to say that being a SAHM is a bad thing, just that women who work outside the home shouldn’t feel like they are doing their children a disservice.

“In a new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes. Having a working mother didn’t influence the careers of sons, which researchers said was unsurprising because men were generally expected to work — but sons of working mothers did spend more time on child care and housework.” (NY Times)

This new study is part of a shift away from focusing on whether working mothers put their children at a disadvantage and toward a richer understanding of the relationship between work and family. I especially like the note about how sons of working mothers took on greater responsibilities around the home. This demonstrates that so much of how we are as adults is shaped by our experiences as children. Children who grow up with a father who takes a more active role in the child-rearing and housework influence their children by modeling more egalitarian behavior.

“There’s a lot of parental guilt about having both parents working outside the home,” McGinn says. “But what this research says to us is that not only are you helping your family economically—and helping yourself professionally and emotionally if you have a job you love—but you’re also helping your kids. So I think for both mothers and for fathers, working both inside and outside the home gives your kids a signal that contributions at home and at work are equally valuable, for both men and women. In short, it’s good for your kids.”

My mother both worked full-time when I was little and was a SAHM for a season when my sisters were born. She went back to work full-time when my sisters were in Elementary School. My step-father never took an active role around the house (unless you include repairs and outside work) and I vividly remember my mother being solely responsible for many of the domestic chores.

Craig is the main cook in our house and he’s very good about taking out the trash and doing home maintenance. I tend to be the one who does the dishes, and laundry, and indoor cleaning. I feel like we split our duties rather evenly. So, I’d love to know about you! Did you have a mom who worked outside the home? Did you have a father who took a more active role in the housework? How are your duties now as an adult? Please share! 🙂

The Happy Housewife?

So, remember when I was talking about trying to get pregnant this year? Yeah, so, one of the things that I struggle with is the desire to be a SAHM. I feel like the best person to spend day-in and day-out with my future child is myself. I have half a graduate degree dedicated to early-childhood education and I feel like no one else could do a better job than myself.

BUT… Could I really hack it as a stay at home mom? Would I be a “happy housewife” if given the opportunity? I can barely keep up after myself, let alone my husband and dog, add another human to the mix and I’m just not sure. I’ve mentioned before that my husband is a former chef and he does most (read: all) the cooking. I’ve tried to take a more active role but I just suck at it and it’s not fun for me but I know that once this baby comes I’m going to have to step up.

I even tried Blue Apron (total fail… that’s a post for another time) and it kinda helped out but mostly just reminded me of how bad I suck at cooking. I’m not creative in the kitchen and I have no idea about flavor profiles and, well, any of the “rules”… I once used red wine instead of white wine in a dish because that’s what we had on hand and didn’t know that was not going to work.

I definitely didn’t get the training my husband did. My mother is really good at frozen vegetables and plain chicken. We ate a lot of meatloaf and mashed potatoes growing up. In her defense my step-father had a terribly picky palate. I also didn’t get any cooking skills from my biological father’s side of the family. I mean, let’s be honest, my grandmother makes Jell-O salads with her dinners and considers them a legitimate side dish. Lettuce on the plate cafeteria style and all. It was what you did in the 50s and besides, my grandpa loves it.

A recent study shows that working moms have healthier, more successful kids (Psychology Today). I believe this is because many people over-parent and do more harm than good. Working outside the home will keep my brain engaged in higher-level thinking and will keep me from getting over-invested in my child’s well-being. I know that I tend to be a smother-er with my affection (ask Craig) and I would hate to over-do it with my child.

So, I’ve started looking into high-quality day-care facilities in the area and really preparing myself for the reality of being a mom who works outside the home. My working mom friends talk endlessly about the “juggle” you maintain when there aren’t enough hours in the day. Thankfully I have a great job with a lot of flexibility. I am grateful for the ability to get away as needed and I think that will help. Overall I’m excited about the future. Having a full-time job will keep us in a position financially to travel often and to expose our child to the great wonders of the world and that’s a good thing.

 

So, what about you? What are your thoughts on the subject? Any SAHM’s out there? WAHM‘s? Full-time workers? How do you maintain a balance? Help me out here… I want your advice!

P.S. Here’s an interesting take (Being a Stay-at-Home Mom is not a Job). I tend to agree with this article. I mean, as a full-time worker outside the home I will still have to find time to cook and clean and maintain the home but I’ll also be gone for the majority of the day. Thoughts?