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Getting rid of all the candy (without eating it or bringing it to work)

Categories: Frugal Living, Parenting, The Juggle, do more with less

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The costumes have been put away (or, at my house, tossed on the floor because everyone wants to play dress-up later). The pumpkins are still sitting on the front step, faces mostly removed, masquerading as “Harvest Decorations” — in spite of the fact that I don’t decorate (sorry, Martha Stewart). The only trace of Halloween in my house right now, a mere two days after the big night, is the 4,000 or so pounds candy that’s sitting in my kitchen.

My kids, they scored.

My husband has been steadily chipping away at the mountain of Almond Joys, and my 4-year-old has told us in no uncertain terms that the Kit Kats are “the very best treats EVER” and that he will be VERY SAD if they disappear. My 6-year-old is fond of fruity, gummy, chewy things. But everything else? Fair game.

Aside from bringing it all into the office — which I’ve done before, along with everyone else who works there, and it is not a pretty sight — here are five tricks for using up all of those Halloween treats:
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Study: Kids with working moms turn out just fine

Categories: Hacking Life, Parenting, The Juggle, Uncategorized, Working? Living?

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Finally, a study drawing from 50 years of research supports what most of us have known all along: In spite of the Mommy Wars, working-mom guilt, and well-publicized reports to the contrary, infants and toddlers with working moms grow up to be just fine.

The study, which appears in the American Psychological Association’s publication, Psychological Bulletin, looked at 69 other studies from 1960 to 2010 and focused on academic and behavioral outcomes. What it didn’t find — evidence to support the things working moms typically feel guilty about, including the idea that kids suffer because their moms work — is as significant as what it did find — the fact that early maternial employment (before the child reached age 3) “was associated with higher achievement and fewer internalizing behaviors” like anxiety and depression.


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Celebrating what you have — at work and at home

Categories: Career, Hacking Life, Parenting, The Juggle, Uncategorized, Working? Living?

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I’ve been a stepparent for about a decade now, and so much of what you read in books, articles, and online highlights the negative aspects to what really can be a very difficult life choice. National Stepfamily Day was on September 16, and in honor of the occasion, I wanted to talk about the positives — and maybe help a few other stepparents find a way to celebrate what they have.

You can read my stepfamily article right here on Work It, Mom!, and you can read my interviews with three stepparenting experts here. But while doing my research and talking to these knowledgeable women, I was surprised to discover that many of the ways one can find happiness as a stepparent also apply to finding happiness — or at least peace — with your job.
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More things I never thought I’d say

Categories: Parenting, Uncategorized

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As I’ve mentioned before, I have running a list of things I never thought I’d say as a parent. Lately, while talking to our kids, my friends and I keep catching ourselves mid-sentence — another one for the list. Here are some of the things that have had me shaking my head in disbelief even as the words came out of my mouth:

No battleaxes allowed on the trampoline.

The Hulk does not like being in the bathtub.

Don’t drink the bathwater.

Don’t even lick the bathwater.

Do not lick The Hulk.

If you get hurt while pretend fighting, you’d better only be pretend crying.

You must wear pants if you leave the house. Or at least underwear.

“Bottomless” means that you are showing your bottom, not that your bottom is gone.

Don’t lick your sister’s foot.

Please don’t drink all of my coffee.

You can’t have any more broccoli until you finish your pizza.

What’s on your “I can’t believe I just said that” list?

When you have to step back to move forward

Categories: Career, Hacking Life, Parenting, The Juggle, Uncategorized

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In sewing, there’s a really important type of stitch called a back tack. It’s created when you sew a seam forward on a sewing machine, then a little bit back on itself, and then forward again — a step taken backward in order to keep an entire long line of work from falling apart.

We do them in life, too. It’s just harder to accept, because 1) we can feel the backward step, but not necessarily the securing of the seam and 2) in our careers, especially as women, even more so as parents, sometimes the backwards steps feel like defeat instead of reinforcement.
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The little things are the big things

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, Parenting, Uncategorized

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I spent Sunday at the Life Is Good Festival, where my youngest kids rocked out to their favorite band (They Might Be Giants) and got so caught up in dancing to Galactic that they nearly forgot about Laurie Berkner over on the kids stage. Almost.

Throughout the area, Life Is Good had posted big signs with upbeat sentiments like “Do What You Like. Like What You Do” (their motto). But the one that really struck me was over in the kids’ area, a backdrop to the games and activities there, right next to the huge tent where Laurie Berkner was performing. It said “The little things in life are the big things.”

I know it was meant to refer to kids — the two-day event was to raise money for Life Is Good’s Kids Foundation, which is dedicated to helping kids overcome adversity. But the phrase applies to so much of my life right now, it felt like a message from the universe, somehow.

People tell you to let the little things go, to focus on the big picture. I’ve spent most of my life figuring out goals and crossing items off to-do lists and telling myself to keep the big picture in mind. But the big picture is made up of a series of smaller snapshots, isn’t it? And those snapshots are taken over time.

My kids — most kids, really — live life in those snapshots. A famous entertainer was singing and dancing a few hundred feet away, and my kids, along with about 30 others, were wrapped up in the moment, playing on a giant parachute that parents and volunteers were heaving up and down. They weren’t thinking about what they’d tell their friends later, or what work they’d have to do once they got home, or the crappy week that had just ended, as I was. They were just enjoying what they had, the little things, right that minute.

As we were leaving that night, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue were wrapping up their set. Trombone Shorty is the kind of musician who gives you chills, his talent is so absolute. As an encore, they walked off the stage and into the crowd, horns blaring “When the Saints Come Marching In” and “Down by the Riverside.” The audience, which had started to leave, surged toward the stage, parents lifting kids onto their shoulders as the band wove in and around the dancing and singing crowd.

For a moment, there was nothing but the moment. A little thing that became the biggest thing of all.

Always on the go, or happy at home?

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, Parenting, The Juggle, Uncategorized

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I have to admit it: In spite of my crazy-long commute and sometime-hectic schedule, and in spite of my tendency to clutter and my inability to stay on top of the housework, if I had to choose between being all “Go, go, go” and spending a quiet weekend at home, the quiet weekend would win. In general, I mean, not just right now.

I’ve always been a bit of a homebody/bookworm. So when my kids — big and little alike — ask me, “What are we going to do today?” I often catch myself wondering, “Why do we have to *do* anything?”
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Working from home, with kids, without losing your mind

Categories: Career, Hacking Life, Making Time, Parenting, The Juggle, Uncategorized, Working? Living?

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My husband was out of town all of last week, and this week my youngest kids are out of preschool, so it seems like a good time to revisit the whole “how on earth do I work when I have to look after my kids at the same time” idea.

Here’s how I’ve been managing. Without adversely affecting a.) my liver or b.) my reputation.
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Washing my own mouth out with soap

Categories: Hacking Life, Parenting, Uncategorized

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One of my favorite I’m-a-new-step-parent stories is from about 10 years ago, when my big kids were about 6, 4, and 2 and my little kids weren’t even a twinkle in their dad’s eye.

I was driving down a twisty, speedy four-lane road outside of Boston, all three kids strapped into carseats in the back of my Saturn, when an obnoxious guy in a black BMW cut me off on a sharp turn. I slammed on the breaks and hissed, “Ohhhhh, you F__KER!”

And, from the back seat, the voice of the eldest, in that I-just-caught-a-grown-up-doing-something-wrong tone that all parents know too well: “Whhhhhhat did you say?”
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My kids are way less excited about BlogHer ‘10 than I am

Categories: Career, Hacking Life, Making Time, Parenting, The Juggle, Uncategorized, Working? Living?

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I’m getting ready for BlogHer ‘10 this week, and I’m excited, but I’m not sure what to expect. Excited because I’ve wanted to attend in the past but haven’t been able to. I’m not sure what to expect because I blog, of course, but I’m going there as a member of the press, and so I feel like I’ll be walking the line between two worlds when I get to New York on Thursday. Excited because I’m going to be able spend an entire night without someone waking me up because s/he has to “go potty” at 3 a.m. Not sure what to expect because my kids, especially my youngest ones, are not exactly thrilled that I’m going away, even though it’s just for two nights.
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