Thursday, February 18, 2010

Business Meeting @ Chuck E. Cheese

I recently had a flashback to Fall 2002. I was living in Baltimore and my fitness outsourcing business was just beginning to grow. I had 2 corporate contracts and new companies were calling me to hire teachers for their fitness centers. There was a fantastic Pilates and dance instructor I'd been dying to bring on board, but we could never seem to get our schedules to mesh.

"Can you do 11:30 on Monday?"

"Uh, let me see... nope, my oldest has a playdate. What about 5:30?"

"Nope, soccer practice at the Y. How about Tuesday at noon?"

"Can't. The 2-year-old has TumbleTina class. Can you do earlier at 9:30?"

"Uh-uh. Sesame Street 9-10." (sigh)

Finally, we agreed that the only way we would be able to meet was to schedule a business playdate at the local Chuck E. Cheese. I don't like to use the word "hate", so I'll say, I truly dislike attending functions at Chuck E. Cheese.

Anyway, Chuck E. Cheese it was on a weekday around 11:45 am. Our 4-year olds chased each other in the jungle gym, while her 2-year old tossed colored balls into the mesh netting enclosing the ball bath. We each held a child, nursing, to our breast as we wrote quickly into our Franklin Planners and notebooks (yes, I was still doing Franklin Planner in 2002. I'd had a bad experience in 2000 when my Palm Pilot died unexpectedly and I didn't know when or where I was going and couldn't find numbers to call anyone to find out. It was 3 years of fear and mourning before I could return to electronic scheduling).

An hour and a half later, our meeting was done, the kids had all been fed, and a playdate had been knocked out all at once. Triumph.

Fast forward to 2010. A contact from the Chamber of Commerce called me and indicated we needed to meet immediately. Both of our schedules were booked solid with meetings, luncheons, and presentations. We both sounded fatigued and stressed as we scanned our Blackberry and Outlook calendars, trying to find any open 2-hour slot in the next few days.

Suddenly an idea came to me. Jeju Spa. The Korean bath house located only minutes from both our homes. Jeju is not your typical American spa. Yes, it has saunas, whirlpools, steam rooms and massage. But it also has wifi, CNN on plasmas, and computer work stations tucked quietly behind gigantic saunas Jeju refers to as "igloos."

"Can you meet me at Jeju tomorrow morning? I have a window of time between kids leaving for school and my first presentation at 11:45am."

"Perfect. If we meet at 8:30, I can fit in accupressure and still make my 11:00 meeting at the Chamber."

When I combine relaxing barefoot on a heated marble floor with closing a business deal as the scent of jasmine and sage float in the air... bliss is the only word that comes to mind. The spa is my golf course, and it's definitely a step up from Chuck E. Cheese.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pit Stop

Each and every one of my days is scheduled from waking to sleep. Not like my husband's schedule in which he is constantly in fear of a flight cancellation between Amsterdam and Barcelona or Tai Pei and Hong Kong. His scheduling concerns are bit more lofty than mine, but not nearly as complicated. Why not? Because he only has to worry about his own schedule.

Not one of my days looks anything like the next day or yesterday. And I like that. Being a Sagittarian that craves variety and freedom and excitement and hustle, I love planning my days with the anticipation of something new and different coming up in a day or a week. But anything I schedule for myself also involves some major arranging (and rearranging) for my sons and their activities.There's that one time I was called by the casting director of Tyler Perry studios to be an extra on a taping of The House of Payne and I spent the majority of my day on set in makeup and wardrobe. And that time I decided to teach for a week once a month in Jamaica. It took 4 months before I grew bored and stopped going.

The point is, I need variety in my mommypreneur lifestyle. For me, but not for my kids. My older son is a lot like I am - he's a free spirit, always ready to go anywhere, for any reason, with anyone. My younger son... not so much. He craves routine and schedule and order. And as a responsible mom, I provide it for my kids even though it goes against my natural character.

Each and every day of the week and weekend has a routine. Tuesday for instance is 3:45 - younger son home for snacks, homework and mom time. 4:20 - older son home for snacks, attacking younger brother, and talking non-stop, while I multi-task clean-up, dinner, and prepare to leave for classes at the studio. 5:30 - babysitter arrives. 5:45 - I leave for work. 6:30 - older son leaves for soccer. 7:00 younger son and babysitter interact. 8:00 older son home from soccer. 8:30 we all eat dinner, kids shower and get ready for bed. 9:30 I start yelling to the kids to stop talking and playing and "go to sleep." 10:00 I repeat yelling to the kids. 10:30 I may possibly still be yelling to the kids to "GO TO SLEEP! I MEAN IT THIS TIME!" Every Tuesday looks just like that without fail. It bores me to tears to have that much routine, but it's perfect for the boys.

Last week, I decided the kids (and I) needed change and fun and excitement in our schedule. We needed to rekindle our relationship as mommy and boys just like a married couple needs variety to keep the relationship interesting and fresh. I struggled to remember the last time the boys and I had been on a road trip together or racing each other in go-carts or doing any of the things we used to do on a whim. Not in a long time.

Last Wednesday, my night class at the studio didn't start until 7:45 and neither child had practice or something scheduled to do. So, at 5:30 I announced... "Hey guys, grab your coats and wallets. Let's go the mall." Now I know the mall is not really a big deal to most people. However, getting to spend an hour or two just walking through the mall for no good reason is not something I ever do and definitely not with my kids since they grew out of the stroller.

By 5:50, we were at the mall and the boys were excited as they punched each other through the sliding glass doors. We started with the indoor skate park where teens were skateboarding and blading over smooth hills and high-fiving on ramps high above the ground. Then we went to the book store (my boys and I are all book worms. I could have stayed in the bookstore for the rest of the visit, but alas it only lasted 15 minutes) where the boys discussed the latest release of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the new book and movie series that looks just like Harry Potter to me. My older son wanted to spend all of his money on 3 books in the new like-Harry-Potter series, while my younger son discussed the merits of saving your money and checking in the library first as he resolutely returned his book to the shelf (at least I got one to carry on my genes for spending wisely). We then spent the next 5 minutes at the register as I turned my older son's POS into an extended math word problem. I apologized to the people standing in line behind us, but if you don't teach them early about money, tax calculations and change, they'll be fools as men, and this momma is not raising any irresponsible fools.

We eventually left the bookstore to walk and window shop. Our next stops included the Lego Store, the Japanese import store (they carry real swords and Japanese comic books which were both of major interest to my sons), and the candy store (where I refused to allow them to buy handfuls of sugar). As we stood at a kiosk purchasing a new wallet for my older son who recently lost his wallet full of money and gift cards (sigh), the younger one saw a trampoline and trapeze at the end of the hall. His little face lit up and he started to dance.

"Oh Mom, can I jump on that thing?" he asked excitedly pointing to a little child jumping barely 2 feet of the trampoline.

I thought about it. Normally, I would say no and we'd rush out of the mall to the next scheduled appointment. Looking at my watch, I quickly calculated the time we had left. There was time. So why not?

"Sure, Honey. Let me finish working with your brother on this wallet thing, okay?"

He started to dance and spin and hum, which he does when he's really happy. We made our way to the booth and saw that there were two activities that could be purchased for one price. The boys calculated the per person fee, put their money on the counter and raced into the kiosk kicking of coats and shoes as they went.

After 5-10 minutes of back-flipping, jumping to the ceiling of the mall, and sliding through elastic bands, we were finally able to pack up and leave - right on time to put me back on schedule for my class at 7:45.

On the way home, the boys talked about how much fun they'd had and tried to remember the last time we'd done something fun for no reason in the middle of the week. They couldn't. Neither could I.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Poking My Fat

It's Friday night and I'm doing what I love to do most... sitting quietly in my bed without any demands on my time and energy from work, family or friends. Tonight, I'm alternately checking all of the emails that have backed up over the week and updating my social media pages.

During my email review, an email regarding my son's soccer schedule peaks my interest. Why? Because anything dealing with soccer seems to affect my entire life. Parent meetings, player evaluations, training schedules, tournaments, away games in thunder storms that aren't canceled until we drive about an hour from home in the downpour. Crazy little things like that seem to take me away from stuff I like - teaching Yoga, networking and socializing, laying in my bed to read a good book, etc.

Anyway, the point of this particular blog has nothing to do with emails, soccer or my desire to do what I want to do. It has to do with butt fat. Stay with me for the correlation...

So, I'm reading this email about the upcoming Spring soccer game schedule when my son comes barging into the room and starts animatedly describing how he's slaughtered and demolished his father in a game on the PS3. He jumps around showing me exactly what happened on the screen, and when he finally slows down to take a breath, I interject...

"Honey, I think you need to take a look at this schedule. There are some conflicts on here that we need to discuss."

He stops mid-slide, picks himself up off the floor and lopes over to where I'm sitting comfortably against some pillows in the bed. He looks at the computer screen and absentmindedly begins to poke softly on a tiny bed of fat that has spread out from the side of my buttocks to peek out of the top edge of the comforter. As he keeps reading and poking, I look down at the little ripple of fat that he's poking. He notices me looking at his finger sinking down into the pillow of brown and says...

"It's just so pokey, Mom." Like that explains everything.

Hm. Pokey. Is that how I want the extra inch of meat extending from my hips to be described? As I'm contemplating this, my husband comes into the room, sits down on the other side of me and starts to mimic my son, pressing gently into the butt-fat on his side.

"Ooh, it is soft."

I just sit there in confusion. How do I really feel about having hip-butt-fat to poke on? Every woman wants curvy hips, right? But how much curve is just right and how much is too much? Should I be concerned about this and start a new exercise program to focus on hip-butt-fat, or should I embrace the softness that screams "I AM WOMAN!"?

Almost simultaneously, they suddenly stop poking, get up, and start punching each other and yelling about who's better at Super Mario Bros on the Wii as they tumble out of the room.

And I'm left to look at my hips. Hm...