Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Heart of Communication

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It's been far too long since this blog saw a post, so I'm very happy to welcome, for the very first time ever on Donut Fridays - a guest blogger!  Actually, it's two guest bloggers: Mama J and Aunt G.     Mama J is somewhat social media savvy (aka she has a FB account) and Aunt G's specialty is texting emojis. Therefore, when they said they might like to have a blog (but didn't know how to go about it) I suggested they use mine to share their thoughts.   Not really thinking I'd hear much further, I was surprised to receive an email about a week later with the following post.   So, without further ado I introduce you to the first ever blog post from the esteemed team of Mama J and Aunt G:


We’re two sisters-in-law with 40+ years of history together who meet for breakfast once a month to catch up.



Fifty years is a lot of combined experience. We’ve been around for the rotary dial telephone, the typewriter, the introduction of main frames and personal computers, the use of the internet, cell phones and social media. 



But nothing beats good old heart-to-heart conversation.  Where we can see each other’s smiles and grimaces and winks and eye rolls.  This is where you can jump into the middle of someone’s sentence and still hear what they’re saying.  (hard to do on the phone). This is an art with the potential of becoming extinct in the face of texting, tweeting, twittering, game playing and what-all that’s coming down the pike. 



So we like to put the iPhone aside for awhile (except maybe to share a photo or two), order a nice breakfast, and visit.



We like to experience different restaurants for breakfast.  This month’s was interesting (said with a wink and a nod).  It was kind of an upscale, trendy place.  We were surprised by the question from the waitress of whether we’d like a starter while thinking about what to order.   Huh, a starter, before the first meal of the day.  And we were told it might be the scone of the day or a batch of fritters to munch beforehand.  “No thanks.“ But hmm…unnecessary,  but…its a thought.  So of course we caved and ordered a batch of fritters (fancy donut holes) with the idea of taking some home to the boys (fat chance).



Then we decided to be reasonable for the “main meal” and ordered yogurt parfaits with home-made fresh pecan/raisin granola.  We were asked if we’d like bacon too.   “No thanks, just the parfait would be great. “ Now to us “parfait” meant a light meal.  The waitress came with an 8” tall, 4” wide goblet full of what appeared to be an ice cream sundae.  That was pretty funny to us and even to the ladies next to us who laughed and complimented us for being so “good” as to order yogurt – and so much of it.  Unfortunately, what should have tasted like pecans and raisins, mysteriously tasted a lot like bacon. Curious…and kinda yucky.  So we’ll move on.



So now we’re in the planning stages for our next big outing.

Might I recommend sky-diving or flame throwing?  Because I have no doubt that an account of you two trying one of those things would go viral!   Thank you for your contribution and hopefully we'll see more to come!



Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Cinderella Diaries

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To follow up on yesterday’s post, one of the activities that Princess S did, to entertain herself while mama was trying to clean, was to write in her diary.   Mind you, she just turned 3, and she doesn’t know how to write.  But, she took this very seriously and got out her pen, her glue, scissors, and stickers.  Because, really, all those things are necessary, all the time.  

I watched her sit down at her little table with pen in hand and scribble in her diary as she dictated her daily life out-loud: “daddy went to work… Mama breakfast… Savvy pre-school…”  She was genuinely talking about her life and day and writing it down as best as she knew how.

And then Mama continued to nag her to pick up her things until we finally all mopped together.  A little while after that she sat back down to continue ‘writing’ in her diary and with pen in hand the scribbles began again in earnest.  This time, all I heard her saying was “Clean, clean, clean, clean….” in her little voice.  I am a little concerned that she is taking this Cinderella thing seriously...

"Clean, clean, clean, clean"

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Just Give Me This Moment



Yes, the couch and chair are lined with piles of clothes and we can’t sit down.  Yes, the kid’s beds are unmade, and their floor is so littered with toys that it is difficult to walk without stepping on a sharp-pointed car or dull-headed baby doll.  Yes, it’s true that for every ten minutes that I get to clean, it is first preceded by a half-hour of kids needs.  Yes, the bathroom needs cleaning and don’t even mention the kitchen stove.  Yes, almost every carpeted surface has a towel lying on it because that’s where my daughter insists on having her pull-up/diaper changed as she also refuses to use the toilet.  Yes, there is a constant battle with ants that have become so smart that they only show up in groups of ten and they don’t reveal where they come from.  Yes, we do have an aging cat who is starting to lose track of where her litterbox is.  Yes, we even have fleas that seem to train with the ants and come from nowhere, and travel sparsely, but never go away.  Yes, my house is a mess. 

But, on Tuesday, I made it my mission that I would sweep and mop at least one room.   I mean the kind of sweeping and mopping that requires you to move furniture.  So, I pushed my clothes-laden couch and chair out of the way, and I began.  Ten minutes here, thirty minutes with kids, ten minutes back – always trying to convince my kids, encourage my kids, nag (but ever so slightly), beg, and pester my kids, to pick up all of their things off the floor so that I could in fact sweep.   Finally the floor was clear, and I began to mop.  They were downstairs playing when I started, but came up shortly thereafter and suddenly, I had my Tom Sawyer moment.  “I want to mop!” my 3-year old shouted (while wearing her Princess dress of course), so I gave her the toy mop, showed her the bucket and let her go.  “I want to mop too!” shouted my 5-year old so I handed over my mop to him.

Yes, they have no idea how to mop.  Yes, there were additional puddles of water on the floor. Yes, I pretty much had to re-do all the places they mopped first. BUT, they were so happy!  And I was so happy they were helping!  They even got on their hands and knees with rags to dry the floor after that.  And, when I told them I was going to mop the laundry room next (where the litterbox is) they shouted, “WE WANT TO MOP THE LAUNDRY ROOM!!”.  As they mopped, I told myself that I needed to remember this moment. 

The kids were being helpful, the house was getting cleaned bit by bit, and at this pace … we might be done by Christmas.

Cinderella drying the floor with a rag. (Please note the dress is on backwards for the full effect)
Who knew mopping the laundry room could be so fun?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Employed!

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I got a job!  Of sorts.   As of about two weeks ago I am employed again, and I am very pleased to report that I just turned in my first invoice for a grand total of nine hours worked.  Wait, what was that?  Nine hours in two weeks you may wonder… what kind of a “job” is that??     

Through an alignment of the stars, an old client of mine needed some project support and reached out to me at the same time as I had reached out to them just to see how they were doing because, through the years, we had become friends.    It all happened very quickly.   My friend put me in touch with her boss and we had a twenty minute conversation about all of the upcoming projects they have, after which he said, “Okay.. well, I think the next step is for you to provide us with a Statement of Work, and we’ll see where we want to go from there.”  While I kept very cool and professional on the call, inside a hundred questions were going through my head…”A Statement of Work for what exactly?  What is it they want me to do? How do I present this to them? How much do I charge them? I hope I have a week to work on this…   “Can you give it to me in the next two days?” he asked, “Sure! [crap]”.     

So, for the next two evenings, after the kids were in bed and I finally had time to think quietly I put on my old work hat and drafted out a Statement of Work (SOW).   This is something I had done for my previous employer, so it wasn’t completely foreign to me, but in all honesty, it was one of the functions of the job I liked the least. I searched on the ‘interwebs’ for a template and did a little research on a few type of things to include, and then I thought back to my interactions with this old client to reflect on what services I thought they had always needed – only then, they weren’t paying me directly.    In the end, I had a five page document and at the top was “Meghan Ingle, Independent Consultant”.   My feeling when I finished that document was one of pride.  I can do this” I thought.  I hope they think I can do this” I thought next.

I sent the SOW over to my contact and had a follow up meeting to discuss it.  I was worried he would think I quoted too long (through September), or he’d think I’d quoted to high (to remain a secret).   But, my fears were immediately squashed when he said that I had “exactly captured the spirit of what they were looking for” (Yes! Yes!) and “let’s target the end date to be Oct. 3, but if this works out, it could be a long term engagement for both of us…” (yes! Yes! Yes!)   I hadn’t even done anything yet, and he’s already imagining extending the contract out.   That was the shot in the arm of this job hunt that I needed.  He also didn’t blink at the price quoted (shoot, should I have aimed higher?).
From there things moved very rapidly.  In fact, I have never seen a SOW approved so quickly, and two weeks later I was attending my first meeting.   The only downside to this engagement is that it is not consistent hours.   I can’t be guaranteed a certain minimum each week as it’s solely depending upon the needs of the projects and the timing of activities there.  

And here’s the best part.  They are in Chicago.  But they know that I am in San Francisco and that I do not want to travel much, and they are okay with that.  That being said, I will not turn down a trip to Chicago, and am excited to go out there for a couple of days next week.

This company has already taken such good care of me and I’m so very grateful.   They have provided me a laptop in quick haste, their help desk support was immediate and they’ve been quick to respond to my queries.  Most importantly though, and I won’t feel ashamed to say this, I feel respected for my abilities.   When I was so unceremoniously escorted from the last company, and then it has been a bit rough with the job hunt, I started to doubt my abilities.   Had I just skated by?  Was my knowledge base too narrow to apply elsewhere?  Why won’t people let me in the door for an interview??   But these guys remember working with me fondly through the years, they know I can deliver and they believe in me.  They believe in ME.  Yesterday, I received the following email from one who works there “Have I told you lately how happy that I am that you are on board!”   To be honest, she had, once before, but you know what? I’ll take that compliment again and again.  Because that just makes me want to try harder to support them and make this work out for all of us.

“Independent Consultant”…that has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Public Pools


I hate public pools.  I really do.  Especially crowded city pools.   It feels almost blasphemous saying this since I grew up a swimmer.  From age 6 thru 17 I was on a summer swim team, and the high school team.  Later in college I played water polo.  Don’t get me wrong I love the water and I love swimming.  But public pools.. especially during free rec swim…ick.    I yearn for those days when I lived in a hot place and there were always outdoor pools.   Since I grew up on a swim team, and it wasn’t a community pool nearby my house, I don’t have memories of hanging out at the pool during rec-swim, I just have memories of lap swimming during practices.   A few friends had pools, and later my parents did, but it was always still a little hard for me just to hang out and play.  I wanted to swim. 

#tbt: 1990

Now that I have two little kids, I really want them to learn how to swim and for a while they were taking consistent swimming lessons and were learning and enjoying it.  Unfortunately we had to cut back on the lessons when I lost my job and we haven’t found a regular (and cheaper) class to replace it.   Both my kids like the water, but my daughter really loves it.   This morning I came out to find her in her swimsuit and goggles sitting on the couch.  The last time we went swimming was three weeks ago, and we had no intention of swimming today.  She just likes to wear the gear.

She and I had a free afternoon together today so I thought I would surprise her and take her swimming.  I sought out some free-swim time at a local pool and told myself to suck it up for her sake.   It’s a newer pool and nice so I thought I could handle it.   And then we got there…and it was packed with splashing bouncing kids of all ages.  And, oh… the locker rooms.  That is really the reason I hate community pools… they gross me out.  Nothing is ever clean enough and I hate hate hate seeing other people’s hair everywhere.  Ew ewe w – gagging now just thinking about it.  But again, I told myself to suck it up for my daughter and I kept my flip-flops on as much as possible.

We got into the pool and I took her to find a little space of our own near the wall so she could practice jumping in and kicking.  I couldn’t help but glare at the tween-age boys who kept splashing us.  They didn’t know what they were doing but I still was annoyed.  By the time we got to the pool there was only 35 min left of free-swim so I figured that would be plenty of time to make my daughter happy and also wear out the kid so she would nap nicely later. 

She was enjoying it and we were having fun.  We walked across the entire length of the pool (it was all shallow) so I could get her a noodle to float with.  About 10 min in we were just getting into the groove when the lifeguard blew his whistle and said “Everyone Out!!”  What?!”  I wanted to scream.. “Do you know how hard it was to get us down here and in the pool???  Since the building was so cavernous I couldn’t understand what he was saying as the reason for our exit.   We got out, and when he came closer I asked what happened.  “Someone threw up in the pool”.

OMG!! (btw, what did we say before ‘OMG’ became popular – because that really suits my feelings here).  OMG!!!!!  This is why I hate public pools!!!

Despite only swimming for ten minutes, she still had a good nap today.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Children for Rent

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As I’ve been looking for a new job over the last five months, and trying my best to be a stay-at-home mom, it occurs to me that I might be able to make a little money renting out my children to others.   If you are looking for a little excitement in your life for one week at a time, then I encourage you to read the below.*  We can negotiate pricing later.

When you rent my children, you will be guaranteed the following benefits for the week:

  • A free daily wake-up call
  • Learn to juggle (demands, not balls)
  • You will be on kept your toes with stimulating brain activity
  • You get to hear your name spoken, shouted and yelled - almost like having your name in lights
  • A chance to challenge yourself, become a master multi-tasker!
  • Exercise!
  • You can catch up on all your favorite kids television shows
  • Hugs at random times, it doesn't matter if your arms are full of groceries, if you are changing a poopy diaper, or carrying a knife - they aren't afraid!
  • You can learn all the words to the entire Frozen soundtrack
  • You can enjoy all the food you used to think fantastic as a child, twice over, since they don't like the same things as each other
  • You can wake up super early to enjoy your quiet time alone
  • You can stay up super late to enjoy your quiet time alone
  • You might be able to take one nap
  • You can learn how to type with one hand while fending little fingers off the computer
  • You will develop a whole new appreciation for clutter, laundry and poop
  • You never have to go to the toilet in private
  • You’ll be forced to watch your language
  • You won't need to talk on the phone to anyone all week (because you couldn't hear them anyway)
  • You can play
  • You can play again
  • You can play some more
  • You can goto parks to play
  • You can play in their room
  • You can play while you are cooking
  • You can play while you are going to the bathroom
  • You can play the moment you sit down
  • You can play the moment they are done eating
  • You can play when you are done playing
  • You can work on your improvisation skills as you answer the same questions many different times
  • You can play with toys you wished you had as a child
  • You can read lots of (childrens) books
  • You can create new and inventive knock knock jokes and puns
  • You can explain what 'puns' means
  • You can interpret their puns and knock knock jokes
  • You can improve your vocabulary (please be prepared to define 'raffle’, ‘reputation’, and ‘tomorrow’)
  • You can get into deep metaphysical discussions on why balloons pop and stickers get ruined when they get wet
  • You can become the master of 'spin'
  • You can laugh at mispronunciations and misuse of words
  • You live everyday like it is Groundhog Day - doing the same thing, only differently
  • You can appreciate the things that seem easy to you, so you will never take them for granted again. (For example: getting dressed, eating with a fork and a spoon, putting on socks, brushing hair, drinking without spilling…)
If interested, please contact me directly and send your resume and any other supporting documentation to prove that you are truly ready for this.  Payment in advance will be necessary.

*Not recommended for those considering having children of their own.  Your children will not be my children, and you will experience new and different joys than you would if you rented my kids.

All Packed Up and Ready to Ship

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Sad Truth


When I posted “The Family Audition” and wrote about our family traditions, a few friends commented on Facebook that we should have mentioned the Donut Friday tradition.  But, you see, that is MY tradition, and sadly, my kids do not share in the same donut joy as I do.  No matter how hard I try to convince them of the sweet bready goodness, they just won’t get as excited as I do.   Oh sure...I may post pictures on FB that make it look like my family and I eat our donuts regularly in blissful harmony, but that is Facebook lore.  Yes, my friends it's true...not everything is at it seems online.

This morning is a case in point.   My husband had left for work and when he got to the BART station he realized that his wallet was at home.  The kids and I hopped in the car (as fast as one “hops” with little kids in tow) to take his wallet to him.  Since we were out early AND it was a Friday, I couldn’t help but think that it might be good to stop by the donut shop on the way home.

“Hey kids, would you mind if we stop for donuts on the way home?” I asked.  And, I have to actually add “YOU don’t have to get one, it’s for me.”
“I want a smoothie!!” shouts my daughter (who doesn’t actually eat smoothies). “No! I want a bagel! A Bagel!!”   This is a result of another day’s adventure where we went to a Noah’s Bagels, which was right next to a Jamba Juice (aren’t they all?) and I got a smoothie.  They both scoffed at the time and said they wanted a bagel next door.  And then salivated the whole time I ate my smoothie.  My daughter has wanted one since.

Anyway, so I explain that this place does not have all those things.  It just has donuts, and if it’s going to be such a big deal we don’t have to go (but secretly, I was heartbroken).   Then my daughter pipes up “I’ll have a donut!”.   I knew she would come around, but it’s less than satisfactory because she only enjoys the donut because of sprinkles.  She doesn’t love them like I do.

Meanwhile my son of five has already mastered the sort of scoff, hoity-toity view of those who eat junk food. “I don’t LIKE donuts.” “I don’t LIKE cake.” “I don’t LIKE ice cream.” And, when with me, he knows he doesn’t have to keep reminding me, so he’s taken to just looking down his nose in disgust dare I suggest such sweetness.   (To be fair, I adopt that same look of disgust when someone tells me they like sugar in their coffee.)

So, I drag my poor poor kids to the donut shop.  Get two for me and one with sprinkles for my daughter and head home to make them eggs.   I ate one donut in their presence, and after I had dropped them off for the morning, I made myself a fresh cup of coffee and enjoyed my second donut in peaceful silence.    Ahhh….

If anything, the crazy pleas that I have to make just to get the kids to the donut shop with me are the family tradition...

This is what my daughter's donut looks like when she's done with it. It looks like she murdered it.