2017, How Did I Do?

As 2017 was winding down, I revisited my list of goals (I keep it on my desktop for easy access) to see how I had done. I had started the year with 5 pretty simple goals:

  1. Get rid of all the baby stuff. Check!

    Thanks to a very successful garage sale in May, I can say that almost all of the baby/early toddler days stuff (clothes, contraptions, toys, etc.) is gone. There are still a few items remaining that Kate’s continued to use (crib, stroller and high chair, specifically), but I’m not going to rush her out of them. When she’s ready, we’ll get rid of them too. I’m certainly not in a hurry for her to grow up though.

  2. Spend more quality time with each kid each week. Check!

    This was a somewhat subjective goal. I didn’t put any measurements in place to hold myself accountable, but I was especially mindful of this goal in particular and worked really hard to spend more quality time with the kids. I’m certain I did better with Leo and Kate than I did the year before, but Alex… well, he’s such a daddy’s boy that it’s a bit harder for me to get one-on-one time with him. That is something I’m going to work on though.

  3. Improve my strength and general fitness level. Check!

    I intentionally didn’t set specific criteria for this goal. I honestly didn’t know what was possible or how I wanted to focus my efforts. Regardless, I’m certain I’m stronger and more fit than when I ended 2016. I’m playing competitive volleyball on a regular basis. I ran in a couple of adventure races without totally embarrassing myself or wanting to divorce my husband. And I was finally able to get back to playing softball at a level that I felt good about. My daily steps goal (as tracked by my Fitbit) was 7,500, and according to my annual data, I actually averaged closer to 8,500 steps. I still feel like this is an area where I can improve, but I feel great about the work I’ve put in during 2017.

  4. Listen to/Read at least 12 books. Check!

    I totally rocked this one. I didn’t keep track, but thanks to my commute, I think I listened to (and finished) around 20 books during the year. I covered a wide span of genres from tech to biographies to non-fiction. If you know of a great audiobook I should listen to, let me know. If you’re looking for a good book, just ask! I can give you a few ideas. As for reading… well, if you count children’s books I read a BUNCH (many over and over again), if we’re talking actual adult books… well, not so much.

  5. Push DARI to marketing success. Undetermined.

    I feel like I could give myself a “Check” for this one, but because “marketing success” is somewhat ambiguous, I’m leaving it at undetermined. 2017 was a big year for DARI. Our system sales grew significantly from 2016. We had some great PR, brought in some awesome new clients and are starting to get some brand recognition in the performance market. I launched a few websites, created new reports and marketing materials, developed strategies, got feedback from clients, implemented feedback from clients and a whole host of other things. I guess the biggest reason I’m not considering this a “check” is because I know there’s so much more to be done. DARI will be big. 2017 was about building a foundation and getting our ducks in order. 2018 is where things will get really exciting.

So now that leaves me to think about my 2018 goals and what I want to accomplish. I have a solid starts on a few ideas, but I’m giving myself another week or so to flesh them out a bit deeper. Look for another post on that coming soon.

A Sad Goodbye to the Birth and Women’s Center

A final photo of the Birth and Women's Center of Topeka, at least as I know it.September 30th marks the end of an era in Topeka as the Birth and Women’s Center (BWC) will be closing. I’ve known it was coming for a few months, but it’s been difficult for me to wrap my brain around. When I think about it, more often than not, I have to fight to hold back tears.

The obvious source of my emotion for this place is that I delivered all three of my babies there. Leo in 2009. Alex in 2013. Kate in 2015. All three births were assisted by different midwives, all of which felt like surrogate mothers/grandmothers to me. Each birthing experience was unique, and great, and totally perfect.

So of course that’s why I get sad about BWC closing…right?

When I think about it, even that doesn’t completely make sense. I know Tony and I are not having more children, so it’s not like I’m personally losing an opportunity.

Yet still I’m sad… And so I’ve thought about it, and thought about it.

There is more to those baby-having experiences than just producing small humans. Every time I came out of that old Victorian house, I emerged as a stronger, more empowered version of myself. There’s something about the confidence you gain from in being in total control, yet also completely surrendering to your body and letting mother nature do what it’s supposed to do. It’s like you’re a vessel for awesome superhuman powers. It’s one time you can truly see that you’re fully capable of completely amazing things.

So in the end, maybe that’s it. I’m sad because this place that’s meant so much to me won’t exist to serve that role for other women. And I think every woman should have the opportunity to experience that type of empowerment.

Thank you Birth & Women’s Center (and all of the nurses and midwives that have worked there through the years). I cannot adequately express my gratitude or explain what you have meant to me. You will always be one of my favorite places, even if it’s only in my memories.

 

Finally Fixed My Style

Fashionable. Stylish. On point. These were not words one would use to describe me or my style. I’m not sure my wardrobe was the kind that would get me reported to the producers at What Not to Wear (is that show still running..?), but they probably weren’t far away. I just relied on years of shopping at Old Navy and Target for most of my clothing purchases, which isn’t terrible in itself, except neither store really caters to my body type all that well.

All of that changed about a year ago when I started my Stitch Fix subscription. Since then, I’ve received my monthly style shipment and have finally starting adding some legit items to my closet. Tops, jeans, shoes/boots and a purse – all work well with my style personality (it must be soft or I won’t wear it!) and fit like they were made for me. Yes!
Stitch Fix is kickin' my footware collection up a notch!Best of all, they come directly to my house, and I send back whatever I don’t want. True shopping heaven for this girl.

Next time you see me out and tell me you really like my top/jeans/shoes/bag, don’t be surprised when I tell you it’s from Stitch Fix. Because it undoubtedly is. And I’m lookin’ (and feelin’) great.

Yellowpages, Seriously… Just Stop

Why do they still send these out?Warning: This post could be perceived as a Millennial rant. Sorry, not sorry. If you don’t want to hear/read my “whining,” feel free to move on.

This came in the mail on Wednesday. It’s the Yellowpages (or YP if you buy into their updated “hip” branding). When I pulled it out of the mailbox, I was caught off guard. I mean, why do they still send these out? Who uses them…? I’m just dumbfounded by the entire situation.

As I consider my irritation with the Yellowpages and why a thick book stuffed full of super thin yellow pages would rouse up such anger, I came up with a few core reasons:

  1. Waste of resources. There was a time and place when the Yellowpages and phone books in general were necessary and useful. It was a decade ago. Now most people carry around the Internet in their pocket. If they need to find local business options, they can Google it. They can go to their social networks to ask their friends (or connections) for recommendations. If they need coupons, guess what, those are on the internet too.
  2. Waste of resources. Again. I work in marketing. I know the ridiculously high prices YP charges businesses to have listings and ads within their various books (there’s one for each region). Seriously. I know the MONTHLY costs for these listings. If these same dollars were invested in paid search listings on Google, they’d be much more effective. I realize there is a small percentage of the population that doesn’t have a smartphone and may still rely on the Yellowpages, but it’s not big enough to justify that level of cost.
  3. Be responsible. If YP feels compelled to distribute these free “resources,” they should at least have the courtesy to be responsible about it. It’s not difficult to get demographic information on true YP users. Layer that with geographical data on where they live and only send books out to those folks. It would cut costs for printing (and save trees), cut costs for shipping, and then allow you to roll out advertising prices that are truly reflective of the viewing audience and fair for the businesses placing listings. Additionally, it would save the rest of us from the irritation and guilt of receiving one.

Currently my YP book is sitting on my kitchen counter as I debate what I will do with it… maybe recycle it? Use the pages as backdrop for my children’s watercolor and marker exploits? Send it back to YP as “Return to Sender” and make them deal with it…? I really don’t know. If you have any suggestions, please share.

My New Normal: The Morning Routine

I’ve been back to work for nearly two weeks now, and I feel like we’re starting to fall into a routine. Things aren’t quite as I had expected, but it seems to be going well, so I’m willing to roll with it.

I start my typical day anywhere between 4 and 5:30 a.m. Technically my alarm is set to go off at 5:15. But if the baby (or Alex) is up earlier than that, and Tony was up at some point for a mid-night feeding, I try to run interference. I want Tony to be able to sleep as late as possible since he has a long drive to and from work each day. If by chance Tony got to sleep all night because my mid-night pumping session lined up with Kate’s mid-night feeding, I’ll let Tony take the first shift and try to get a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning.

After the crew is awake, the circus begins… Vitamins for the boys. Milk for Alex. Nurse the baby. Get everyone dressed. Help Leo with breakfast. Find breakfast for Alex that won’t end up all over his shirt/face/pants or in his hair. (You’d be amazed, this kid can make a mess with almost anything.) Tell Leo to brush his teeth and get his shoes on.

All the while, I’m attempting to get ready. The boys are pretty good about playing in the living room as long as one of their cartoons is playing in the background. (Their current favorites are Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Miles from Tomorrowland.)

leo_and_alex_wait_for_the_busAt 6:55, we go outside with Leo to wait for the bus. This is probably the highlight of my morning. I get to talk with Leo about the things he’ll be doing that day and can sense his excitement for school. I also get to witness the love the boys have for each other and their sister as we go through several rounds of hugs and kisses saying our goodbyes.

As the bus nears the house, Leo runs down the driveway. I yell, “Love you, Leo. Have a great day!” And then Alex will follow up with something similar. It never ceases to bring a smile to my face to hear him yell, “lov oo!”

Then Alex, Kate and I head back into the house to finish getting ready. I usually have to do another round of diaper changes and finish getting myself ready. At that point we’re ready to start transitioning to the van. (That process by itself is usually three or four trips between the van and the house.)

If I’m lucky, we’re pulling out of the driveway by 7:30 a.m. (I’d say that’s probably actually only happened three times.) Usually it’s closer to 7:45, which means we’re at daycare just after 8.

Daycare drop off with Kate has been smooth. I carry her carseat and bag in, drop it off and give them the morning briefing.

alex_and_kate_at_daycareAlex on the other hand is like trying to herd a cat into the bathtub. It’s not that he doesn’t want to go to daycare, he’s just not been a big fan of it since he’s moved up to Todd 2. Every single step requires strategy and patience. Somedays I have him hold the keys and unlock the doors as we go into the center. Other days he’s my helper and proudly carries the baby’s bag for me. Every day I have to align myself between him and the day care center’s flower garden so that Alex doesn’t wander through it. And then once we’re inside, I have to stick to his right so he doesn’t take off down the long hallways to other parts of the building or run into the church’s sanctuary.

Ultimately I role into work between 8:15 and 8:30, and I pretty much already feel like I’ve already completed my first major accomplishment for the day.