Archive for the ‘parenting tips’ Category

Can I Spark Your Pinterest?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

If you are a mom or going to be a mom in the near future, you are busy planning, preparing and doing.  To aide you in this, what better resource is there than the internet for inspirational ideas, advice, and amazing pictures on any topic.  The challenge is that the internet can also be a black hole of sorts, with millions of websites, products, and blogs (just do a Google search on baby ideas and tell me which of the 315 Million results is most relevant to you?).  How does one navigate this resource, and avoid being lost in the abyss?

For me, I have found a magic bullet for this challenge. It’s called Pinterest. It’s a great website for planning, organizing, and remembering those cool recipes, crafts, and other things you find on the world wide web by pinning photos, videos, and other content to virtual boards (while maintaining links back to the original site).  You can also follow other user’s boards for ideas and inspiration. This can be a great tool for doing any number of things, but I find it particularly useful for preparing for your new little one, including:

  • Design a Nursery.  You may cut out clippings in magazines, see displays at stores that inspire you, or find images on the web that you would like to incorporate in your new babies room.  With Pinterest, you can create a board of such images (Pinterest Mobile allows you to pin things while out and about), and easily refer to this board when deciding on fabrics, furniture and accessories for the room.
  • Meal Planning. Instead of “winging it” when it comes to dinnertime (same goes for your little one’s lunchboxes), plan your menu based on allergies, health, budget, or just preferences when it comes to meals.  The visual of what you’ve planned for the week can be much more inspiring when it comes to shopping and making the meals.  And once you’ve pinned a number of recipes that you find appealing, you’ll always have a collection of tasty treats you can cook when you or your little munchkins are hungry and looking for ideas.
  • DIY House Projects.  If your husband’s honey-do list suddenly increases because of this one, he may not fall in love with Pinterest.  But if you introduce one project at a time, he will love the on-line tutorials and ideas for fixing or designing almost anything around the house!
  • Seasonal Inspiration.  Fall is a great time of the year to get in the spirit and bring a little Halloween or fall décor into your house.  Get inspired by visuals and step-by-step guides to creating the perfect fall haven in your home.
  • Kid Fun and Craft.  For those cozy rainy days, refer to the board you’ve been pinning with fun crafts to do with your kids.  Show them different ideas and let them pick the one that looks the best to them!
  • Organization Ideas.  This is by far my favorite and most useful.  I constantly hear of organization tips that I want to put to use.  Before, I never could remember where I saw something or what it was.  Now I just pin these ideas and try to complete one idea a week – organization saves time and money in the end!
  • Themed Parties. Remember when I couldn’t think of an idea my daughter’s fourth birthday?  This was before I discovered Pinterest, and although I was saved by readers, I can now refer to party ideas and see examples of them to boot.
  • Sewing:  Have you found a fabric you love and would like to incorporate it into your room or home.  Search the pinboards for sewing ideas and either do-it-yourself, or have it done by a talented friend!

If you can’t tell, I really like Pinterest.  Let’s put it this way, if Pinterest was a Sherpa, you’d be at the top of Mt. Everest in no time … no wait, if Pinterest was a rescue dog, with a little barrel of brandy around it’s neck … no, that does not work either.  Let’s just say that Pinterest has been a big help to me in getting organized with some project ideas and has transformed the way I look at bookmarking on the web.  Readers, have you discovered Pinterest and what’s your favorite pin?

I “DO” Know How She Does It!

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Kevin, Cindy and their kids, Lily (4) and Logan (20 months)

 A blog post from Carousel Designs’ marketing director, Leah Sicat

Do you know a “supermom” who seems to really do it all and do it all well?  Well for me, that person is my friend and neighbor Cindy.  She has an exciting career and a demanding job that she really loves, two sweet kids, a supportive and also-busy husband, and a household that seems to run like a well-oiled machine!  I interviewed Cindy recently to get her thoughts on life as a working mom and how she manages everything.  She shared the challenges of working full-time while raising a family and the great lessons she has learned as a result (hint: having and sticking to a schedule will save the day!)  She also shared some awesome time-saving and household efficiency tips that we can all learn from.  So, without further ado … meet Cindy! 

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 Can you describe your job and position?

I am vice president and director of marketing for Lend Lease Americas region, focused on public partnerships.  It probably sounds pretty confusing!  Lend Lease is a global property solutions and infrastructure provider headquartered in Sydney, Australia, and I oversee all of the marketing and communication efforts for our public partnerships business here in America. We partner with the Department of Defense to build homes and communities on military installations.

I love my job.  I am so blessed to go to work every day and know that I am making a difference in the lives of our military men and women and their families who sacrifice so much. My husband is a former Army officer, and we still have lots of friends who are in the military; many of them live in a Lend Lease property.  It makes me so proud when they tell me how grateful they are for the services we offer or for the home they are now living in.  We really are making such an improvement in the lives of military personnel.

My job entails quite a bit of travel.  I am on the road probably 50% of the time, sometimes more, visiting our projects, attending conferences or events, or having meetings with our stakeholders.

What is a typical week like for you?  

Cindy’s company, Lend Lease, provided project management and construction services for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

I can honestly say that “typical” is not a word in my vocabulary!  Every week is really different for me.  When I am not on the road I am fortunate to have a home-based office.  This allows me the flexibility to work different hours/shifts. My job is definitely not nine to five.  When I am on the road, I can easily work 10 – 12 hours.  Even if I am not on the road, if we have a crisis situation or a tight deadline, that could mean working late nights, early mornings or over weekends.  When something happens that could impact our residents, I need to be available no matter what the time of day.  However there are days when it is a little slower and I have a break between calls, or no meetings scheduled, so I can leave the desk and go for a run, or pick up my kids, Lily (4) and Logan (20 months), from school a little bit earlier.  I really try to do this when I have been on the road for a few days.  So much work travel can be difficult at times, but I am lucky to have a husband who understands my job requirements and is super supportive and an employer that understands the challenges of being a full-time working mommy.

From your perspective, what are the benefits and challenges of working full-time while also managing a family?

I love working full-time.  I seriously do not think it is in my DNA to be a stay-at-home mom.  Growing up I knew I always wanted to have a family, but I also always knew I wanted to have a career too.  I have been so focused on getting my career established, almost to a fault.  It’s a joke – but true story – that when I was in labor with both Lily and Logan, I was working almost up until the moment I started pushing!  I mean, I had an epidural, was comfortable, had my computer and internet and knew it was going to take some time, so why not?

Working full-time and raising two kids isn’t easy.  I constantly feel like I have the working mommy guilt, or am being pulled in 18 different directions.  It’s hard to turn off the blackberry at night and just enjoy my family when I have a major deadline hanging over my head, or a reporter from a different time zone needs to speak with me NOW.  However, I make it work.  I am dedicated to my family first and foremost and my employer knows and supports that.  I have been on business trips that I had to leave abruptly to deal with a very sick baby at home, or taken half days to go into Lily’s classroom to read her favorite books when she was chosen as the star student.

Because I do travel so much, I miss out on a lot.  I know that.  But I try to make up for as much lost time as I can.  I cherish every single second I am with my kids.  I think maybe even more so then if I was working a job with no travel.  I also make a point of saying prayers and having a goodnight conversation every night, whether I am on the road or not, with Lily and Logan.  I have been in the middle of business meetings (especially in Hawaii where there is a six hour time difference!) and walked out to take that goodnight call from my family.

When I am home, we have a very special evening routine.  We make a point of having dinner together as a family every night.  No TV, and I turn the blackberry off (for the most part).  We sit at the kitchen table and talk (or in Lily’s case, maybe sing) about our day.  After dinner, it’s bath, books, prayers and bed.  I love cuddling in Lily’s bed, with Logan on my lap, the smell of Johnson’s baby lotion filling the air, reading Pinkalicious and Green Eggs and Ham, before saying our nightly prayers, reminding each of us what we are so thankful and blessed to have.

Having that nighttime routine is critical.  It ensures we are communicating, which is so easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and it allows the entire family to have some sort of a routine or schedule which is so important. 

How do you make it all work? Do you have any tips to share? 

It’s not always easy, but we definitely do make it all work.  I have a very Type-A personality.  That’s right, I am a control freak and not ashamed to admit it!  I think that living our busy lifestyle, I have to be.  Again, working a job that is so demanding with travel involved, and a husband who works full-time, two kids who are always busy with dance, swim, tennis or some kind of play date – not to mention the three marathons I am training for – I have to be organized and efficient or else things won’t get done.

We are on a tight schedule in this house, always have been.  I think having a schedule that works for your family is the most important thing.  The kids rely on it and it allows my husband and I to have some alone time at the end of the night, which is also so important.

I also try to do as many time-saving things as possible.  Twice a month I create my meal plans for the next two weeks.  This helps alleviate the stress of what I am going to make for dinner each night, it also ensures the kids are eating healthier meals, and helps me plan my grocery shopping list.  Before, I used to find myself aimlessly wandering through the grocery store wondering what I was going to make for dinner that week … not anymore!  The meal planning has been a huge time saver.  Also, during the week, I only make meals that take me 30 minutes or less.  There are a ton of websites out there that have healthy, quick recipes.  My crockpot is seriously my best friend!  I make tons of meals in it that are SO easy and good!

Being on the road as often as I am, I also try and make things easier for my husband.  I will pre-cook meals for the days I am gone, label them and stick them in the freezer.  All that my husband has to do is take the food out of the freezer and microwave it.  I also make sure the kids’ outfits are out for the week as well.  One less thing he has to worry about and it’s peace of mind, knowing that the kids will be wearing outfits that actually match!

I’m also a list maker.  I create lists of things that have to get done either during the week, or on the weekends.  I actually type them up in order of importance and cross things out as they get accomplished.  I don’t do this all the time, but when we have a lot going on, I find that this just helps ease my mind and help me not forget something that has to get done that day.

Finally, I know this may not work for everyone, but we also hire house cleaners.  To me, the return on investment is significant.  Spending a few hours every weekend cleaning the house is, to me, lost hours that I feel could be much better spent.  So hiring people to clean was the right decision for us.

I know I am not the perfect mom.  I know that Lily and Logan miss me just as much as I miss them when I am gone, but I also know that working full-time in a job I love helps make me the person, and ultimately the mom and wife, I want to be.  I am proud of the fact that I work full-time, and am raising two really good kids … it’s a pretty fulfilling thing.  It doesn’t come without sacrifices, but it also comes with great rewards.