Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Video: Let It Go Already (A Boy & His Dog)

The Frozen craze has come and gone. Wait, no, it's still here, that was just wishful thinking fueled by the soundtrack playing over and over again in our house.... the car.... everywhere in homes with kids across the globe. Right?!

One question though: Is your dog as unhappy about it as ours? When L. starts belting out his version of the song "Let It Go," Sailor does her best to make it stop, as you can hear in the background of this video from tonight...  Watch as they duel it out together... Please make it stop...


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Friday, August 15, 2014

Invisible Illness

You can't always see sick.

It's too easy to judge people based on how they look or act. To some extent, this is how we process the world around us; it's how we learn and make sense of everything. We put people and things into categories as a way to file away our perceptions.

We have these schemas, broad categories that stuff fits into, and as we look, listen, and learn more, we process that information along with situational cues, and make judgements.

It can be easy to look at a young person and assume he is healthy. It makes sense to see an elderly person walking with a cane and assume she is ill.

Sometimes this automatic categorization of others is good. This process allows us to judge a situation and gauge our safety, it tells us to get up and offer our seat to the person with the visible handicap. These judgements can guide our decision to step back and hold the door for someone who needs assistance, to help a child reach for something high up on a shelf.

But what if what we see is not always what's really there?

I was struck by the words of Robin William's wife after his passing:

"It is our hope in the wake of Robin's tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid," wrote Susan Schneider, as reported by CNN.

You can't always recognize chronic disease or a mental health illness from a glance or single interaction with someone. Depression, cancer, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's disease, anxiety, these are just some chronic illnesses people could be managing that might not be visible. 

Of course it's impossible to know everybody and their personal struggles, so the question is, what can we do about it. How can we be more open to people who may be fighting a battle that we know nothing about?

Instead of making assumptions, we could choose to keep an open mind and open heart and choose not to react to our initial opinions about others. What you see is not always what's there.

We can also choose to talk with the people around us in our everyday lives, instead of living in our own bubble and selfie-absorbed culture. And when we talk to people, we can choose to really listen to them. We can engage in what they tell us and think deeply about tactful questions to ask, instead of either waiting for our turn to talk, or avoiding the difficult conversations altogether.

Many people live life in spite of their illness. Your co-worker may be quietly fighting battles that no one knows about. And not everyone with chronic illness wants to talk about it, which is fine too. The fear of being labeled is real. By being truly open and patient to those around us though, by having an open mind, we can help end the stigma that people with chronic disease and mental illness face.

Not all illness is visible. Life isn't always what it seems.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

That Time I Wasn't on the Katie Couric Show

The day began like any other day. But it quickly changed when a producer from the Katie Couric Show contacted me about being on the show for a segment on working moms.

I love Katie Couric. She is talented, gorgeous, an example for women, and working moms. The prospect of sitting down with her and discussing work-life issues and motherhood sounded like an amazing opportunity.

I was flattered that my writing and advice on juggling work and family life led the producer to my blog. She asked if I would go on the show to discuss my perspective as a working mother in today's society where we are always connected to our electronics and obsessed with social media. Of course I said yes.

At some point during our conversation my heart stopped racing from excitement long enough for me to reach for a pen and start taking notes.

I proceeded to jot down every word she uttered, determined not to miss anything.

Phrases like "need to send a crew to film in your house for about 2 hours" and "we will send you and your family to NYC the night before so you can arrive in the studio early the next morning for the 10 a.m. taping" spilled across my paper in black ink with numerous exclamation points and heavy underlining.

I asked a lot of questions, then it was her turn. What was a typical day like at our house? Who did most of the cooking? Who got L. ready for school in the morning? She asked me about my job and how I managed to have a healthy work-life balance. She also discussed what sound bytes they wanted when they filmed in our home.

The producer ended the call by telling me she was going to find a film crew in Baltimore to send to our house before we needed to be in NYC for the studio taping in a few days.

Tell me, what is the very first thing you would do after receiving a call like this? To be on Katie Couric's show?!

I went straight into prep mode. I wrote down everything that was racing through my mind from the call, all the thoughts I had about how moms are expected to juggle so much, the pressure we place on ourselves, the lack of paid family leave options in the U.S., the way our electronic devices can rule our lives if we don't unplug regularly.

I immediately purchased the kindle version of the book the producer told me about on the call, Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte (which was excellent by the way).

I made a list of all the things I needed to do (outline my talking points, pick a flattering outfit, get a haircut) and the stuff I wanted to do (completely redesign the blog, paint the wall in the kitchen where L. doodled spirals with his markers). Then I wrote a name next to each item on the list, of people who I knew I could ask for help.

Those next few days were hectic, but I was driven by adrenaline and excitement. After work and putting L. to bed each night, I stayed up until the wee hours of morning writing.

Stephen set up a meeting with his PR person to discuss how to talk about his employer during the filming, he got a haircut, bathed the dog.

I called my friend who graciously volunteered to be my publicist (wait, what, a publicist?!). She knew just what to do, and pulled together a list of questions for me to clarify with the producer before leaving for NYC.

But then...

As the title of the blog post forewarns, it turns out I never did go on the show. Here I was with a clean house, fresh haircut (thank you Jama over at Morgan Gerard!), waiting for a call about a film crew to show up at our home any minute, and nothing.

I called the producer. I emailed. But no response.

Question after question pinged around in my brain, trying to figure out what happened. Did they cancel the segment altogether or just go a different direction? Ironic that the point was to discuss the issue of Moms today being overwhelmed and I spent the days that followed feeling exactly that.

The date that I was supposed to go on the show came and went.

I was crushed. Self doubt crept in. Did I talk too much on my call with the producer that she didn't think I would be good enough for the show? Was it because I was not immediately available that very day that she called?

And now...

Although I'm sorry Katie's show ended, I'm psyched she has a new gig with Yahoo and about her recent marriage (her wedding photos were stunning!). I am flattered that I was asked to be on the show at all. It was a compliment to know someone at that level was paying attention to my blog. Although I was disappointed with the outcome, it gave me a little extra pep to keep blogging and sharing my experiences.

For other bloggers who find themselves in a similar situation, relish the moment, even if it doesn't work out for you because chances are it worked out for someone else.

What I learned from my experience is that you never know where your writing will lead you. Perhaps to a cool story to share one day.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fennel & Arugula Pizza {Dinner Tonight}

Stephen's out of town on business and the weather has been ahh-mazing. We had a few days reprieve from the muggy DC heat, just a little tease of the Fall weather that's to come (soon, please!).

I decided to make L.'s favorite for dinner, pizza, but not your average pie.

At our house, we take any opportunity to try a healthier twist on the standard pizza, so when I saw this recipe in Working Mother Magazine, I knew we had to try it. Since it was a work night, even though it's not as healthy as our homemade whole wheat dough, I took a shortcut by buying pre-made dough from Wegmans.

At first I was skeptical ---- fennel and lemon zest on my pizza? As you can see from the look on my resident lemon zester's face, I wasn't the only skeptic in the house.

Boy zests lemon

L. was determined to be fed well tonight, so he zested on. The cutest thing, I have to share. L. just started taking the tub that holds our kitchen scraps to the compost bin outside, all on his own. So proud of him, as we have added it to one of his little chores around the house. He walks the tub to the big compost bin at the edge of of yard and dumps everything in, then brings it back for me, all he needs help with is opening the sliding glass door.

Boy Zests Lemon

The pizza was delish! L. liked it too, minus the fennel, which wasn't really his thing, but it's the first time he has tried it, so my guess is he'll eat more of it next time. We invited a few friends over to try a bite and they approved as well.

I also used the tops of the fennel (since you only use the bulbs for the pizza) to make fennel-infused water for us to sip the next day. It was yummy with the juice from those lemons above! I just threw the fennel tops into a glass jug with filtered water and kept it in the fridge overnight, then squeezed in the lemon juice the next morning.

Try making the pizza at home and let me know what you think. Here's the link: Fennel & Argula Pizza Recipe
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Family Weekend at the Jersey Shore

This weekend we took a quick trip out to my Aunt and Uncle's fabulous place in New Jersey. 

My Aunt and I stayed up late the first night gabbing, we got to catch up with my cousin in between her work shifts, and L. got to hang out in the pool and ride his scooter around their backyard like a wild cat. On Saturday my Aunt and Uncle took us to the Point Pleasant boardwalk for the day. It was L.'s first time on any kind of ride and after each one he asked for another, even asking to go on the small roller coaster toward the end....

Thank you Mark, Laury, and Katie for the fun weekend getaway! <3

How about you? What are your favorite places to visit on the Jersey Shore? Favorite treats to eat? We were tempted to try a deep fried Oreo but ran out of room after lunch (probably a good thing!)

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