Thursday, February 15, 2018

Picture of the Week - 2/15/2018

You know that old saying "do as I say, not as I do"?  I happen to think that little saying is a pretty powerful parenting ideal.  I mean that's hard...  but it's something that Bob and I think about.  Goodness knows we aren't perfect at it!!!  I mean, we are FAR from perfect in general, but this is definitely one of those things that is "easier said than done".  Whoa - I'm on a roll...  Anyway...  one of the things that I hope our boys pick up from being raised in our house is the behaviors that support our core belief system.  There's a reason "Discipline equals freedom" is our family motto.  We believe you work for what you want and don't expect hand outs.  We have shattered most traditional gender roles in the home.  We protect those that are smaller or weaker than ourselves.  Education is important.  Luck is not a thing.  Actions always have consequences - and the consequences are owned by the person making the decision.  Sounds like a dreadful place to live now that I'm looking at it on paper...  LOL  We also hug - a lot!  So don't go off thinking we are running some kind of unfeeling and cold sweat camp!

I'm guessing that anyone who doesn't read these emails and just looks at the pictures will have the totally wrong idea looking at this picture of a hotel bed with too-soft hotel pillows sent the day after Valentine's Day.  This is definitely not an email about romance...  it's more about guilt and stress with a good sprinkle of trepidation thrown in for fun.  It's also a view that I've seen more in the last few weeks than my own home.

I've managed to get myself in over my head at work - again - and it's lead to one of those HARD working-mom phases of life.  I've had hard working-mom phases before - like when you have to leave a 3 month old for the first time.  When you have to lug a breast pump to Vegas for a conference.  When you miss games and events and milestones...  It's the clash of career and family.  I'm sure as heck not the first to struggle with the balance - and I know I won't be the last.  So I know I'll get through this phase...  but that doesn't erase the doubt and anxiety.

I think one of the major contributing factors to the discomfort of this current phase is that all of the different things adding work to my "plate" are also adding a level of engagement and enjoyment to the work that I haven't had in a long time.  I'm enjoying my job more than I have in ages.  And that should be awesome, but the problem is that this work comes with travel - a LOT of it - and that means I'm exchanging job satisfaction for family time.  I HATE that there has to be a trade-off.  And I have guilt about all of this!  The kind of guilt that wakes you in the night with its whispers.

I've been asked to join a number of different events and training opportunities at work recently.  All of these are things I consider to be big benefits and opportunities.  I have been "fast tracking" through leadership training.  This essentially means that I haven't even finished leadership training 1 and they've pulled me into leadership training 2.  There are lots of reasons they did this - all good - but it layers the work I have to do to "pass" these training events and essentially doubles both the work and the time required away from the house.  Have I mentioned lately that I work for a company headquartered in Scotland who views the cross-Atlantic flight the same way some companies would look at jumping a plane down to Orlando...  

The leadership stuff would be fine, but then I was also selected as a Lean Leader (which is the training I'm doing this week).  This is something I'm actually really interested in.  I love processes and efficiency and reducing waste.  Many Lean principles are easily translated from work to home stuff (sorry Bob...  we may have to flowchart out our regular processes) and I just find them interesting.  Logistics is probably my true calling, so anytime I can combine what I get paid to do with stuff that I find interesting is a win/win.  My company is going through a Lean Transformation that started about 6 months ago.  I'm in Lean Leader wave 2 - which means I'm not the first group through this process, but would definitely be considered an early adopter.  We've spent the week so far talking about all the work that we have to do to first achieve certification (pass the coursework) and then how we are expected to help drive the change.  

Change is hard!  Managing people through it is stressful.  It's a sorta normal part of managing people in general - because the only thing constant is (everyone say it with me) change...  but when the change comes fast and furious, I find myself spending as much time talking my employees and colleagues off ledges as I do getting actual work done.  My team just went through a reorganization.  My boss left the organization.  I have a new boss, new management team, new expectations.  new new new.  It's all good, but change is hard.  I want to help get this organization through the transformation and I really believe I can help people around me to become better, more efficient, more focused employees.  I can do it, but it all takes time - which is increasingly difficult to come by recently.

And then last week, 2 days into my week in Scotland, I was presented with a great honor and opportunity.  My company participates in and sponsors an executive MBA program with the University of Strathclyde in Glascow Scotland.  They select 2 employees to join this program every other year - one from the US and one from the UK.  The selected employees get to go through a specially developed curriculum focused on innovation and international business - resulting in an MBA for the 25 participants who go through each cycle.  I am starting my cycle next month and will graduate in July of 2021 - just after Spencer graduates from high school.  This is not going to be easy - from both a coursework and a travel perspective.  I will go to Glascow 6-7 times a year from next month through Sept of 2020 for classes and will have group-based assignments to complete on top of work and home and all that stuff that I'm already doing.  I am already apprehensive about how this will fit into our hectic lives...

But I'm also so excited about it.  What a great opportunity.  Clearly this is one of those things that you can't say no to - even though it was a hard decision knowing all the stuff I will miss at home while working through all this...  work.  I couldn't do this without the support freely offered up from both my parents and Bob.  They all said "we will do what we can to support you" and I know they mean it.  Bob is a saint.  Really...  he just picks up all the stuff that needs to be done and has never EVER made me feel guilty about the things I need to do for my job.  The guilt comes from within...  and it's pretty significant right now.  

All of this is modeled behavior that I want my boys to see, learn from, and expect from themselves and the families they go on to build.  I couldn't imagine shying away from any of the stuff going on with my job right now because it's "hard".  What kind of message would that send to my boys?  I love the fact that they see the support system I have in place to allow me to go do these things.  I think it's so vitally important that they see their dad supporting me - and them - because that's what good men look like.  Believe me, I understand that the time we have with these boys is limited and it really does KILL ME that I am going to miss more of it, but at the end of the day, we are building men.  Men who need to understand what "good"* looks like and then strive to get there themselves.  

*This is our version of "good".  Mine and Bob's.  It does not need to look like your version of good and if you find yourself somehow offended by what we are doing and where we place our core values, that's totally fine.  I don't share any of this to make any kind of claim that our version of good is better than anyone else's, so if you feel that way, that's on you.  And would lead me to recommend that you spend some time thinking about what your core values are and how strongly you feel about them because if you have a plan that you are executing your plan, then nothing I've shared here should be offensive...  

If I miss a POTW here and there over the next 3 years, assume I'm on a plane somewhere...  otherwise, come along on this crazy journey with us.  I'm sure there will be ups and downs and wins and losses and maybe more than a few tears.  But that's life, y'all.  Let's pack as much into it as we can!

Tuesday we are off on our annual Buckeye cruise.  I'm desperately looking forward to spending more than 5 minutes with my husband.  And cold beer.  Cold beer sounds really lovely!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Picture of the Week - 2/1/2018

Tomorrow is Quinn's 14th birthday.  


Bob recently came across a quote that he shared with me as we were talking about The Mighty one day.  It really struck me.

"And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great." ~Job 8:7

I can't wait to see where this kid goes in life.  I can see SO many different paths that he could take from here.  It's literally the precipice of very great things!

In some ways, Quinn is a very typical teenage boy.  He spends far too much time on video games and watching Youtube videos and texting/snapchatting/whatevering.  He spends a LOT of time in his room.  He doesn't read as much as I think he should.  He doesn't study as much as he could.  He does normal teenager-y stuff - including the attitude crud!!

But there are also SO many ways that Quinn is just a little surprising.  He's just a little bit different than what you would expect.  And that makes him really, really awesome!

Quinn is, hands down, one of the kindest boys I know.  He cares about people and seems to actually enjoy taking care of others.  He never fusses about watching his brothers.  He happily takes on "dog duty".  He loves babies!  How many 13/14 year old boys do you know who love babies???  I don't know what Quinn will do when he grows up, but I'm willing to bet you now that it will involve care taking of some kind for something.  He just has that nature about him and it's such a joy to see.  

Don't get me wrong...  this is not to say that our sweet 2nd boy is universally sweet and agreeable.  Ha!  He's a teenage boy.  There are eye rolls and grunted responses and all the junk that goes with getting through middle school.  But I can see through all of that and I can imagine what's about to emerge.  And I'm SO EXCITED to watch it happen!

Quinn is going to have a great year as he transitions out of middle school and tackles high school.  I can't wait to watch him continue to work his way through all the decisions and choices that will lead him to the path of "very great" years.  

Happy Birthday Mighty Quinn!  Thank you for being such a cool kid and teaching your dad and I so very many important things!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Picture of the Week - 1/25/2018

Anyone else having a hard time grasping the fact that January is almost over?  I swear Christmas was like 25 minutes ago!

This week has been a good one as we gear up for a February Calendar where I am going to spend 18/28 nights away from home.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I will be looking for February in my rear view mirror come March too...

Quinn started lacrosse practices this week.  He's having fun with his new team - and is ridiculously excited to be playing with a whole team of boys that are really good.  He's going to learn a ton this spring - and hopefully have a blast!

Spencer is still wrestling, which means he's missed a whole week of high school lacrosse evaluations.  The transition periods between sport's seasons for multi-sport athletes is terrible.  This year it's not really impacting any decisions that might be made because Spencer will play on JV and not really have a shot at varsity anyway.  But if he DID have a chance, the fact that evals is the same week as prep for the regional individual wrestling tournament stinks.  And he's going to have to end up making decisions about what sport to prioritize all through the summer.  So much schedule conflict!  He's planning on doing wrestling weight training AND lacrosse practices all spring.  He's nuts...  and busy...  and really motivated.  

The little boys are still doing jiu jitsu and start lacrosse on Feb 5th.  The way the lacrosse practices worked out, Zane will be able to do both JJ and lacrosse through the spring and Beck will only miss one night of JJ because of conflict.  They are also ridiculously busy...  Bob and I laugh about the fact that our boys don't really know any different.  I think they think it's just normal to go to school, grab dinner, head back out for some kind of activity and then rinse/repeat.  

Last Friday night was the Mother/Son event at the elementary school.  I think I've mentioned this before  but I will have a son at that elementary school for 14 straight years.  That's a lot of cold pizza and laser tag/ice skating/bowling!  LOL  The picture this week is the boys while we were waiting for our neighbor to leave.  They were racing back and forth in the hall and having a blast because "running at school is prohibited".  Ha!  I thought it was cool to get a picture of them in their mostly deserted school with a completely empty hallway behind them!  BTW - their faces are painted because it was a black-light/laser tag event.  Just picture a dark gym full of noisy boys with laser guns.  Good times...

Saturday Spencer wrestles for a spot in the Individual sectionals.  They will take the top 4 wrestlers at each weight class to sectionals.  There are 7 schools in our region.  There are 2 guys we know he can't beat...  like I love him, but there's no chance...  so that leaves 2 spots for 5 guys.  Decent odds...  we shall see what happens!  

Then Sunday we have a parent meeting for football.  For next year.  You know...  because there aren't enough things to think about right now!   HA!  I'm sure they just want us to start fundraising...  anyone wanna buy mulch?

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Picture of the Week - 1/18/2018

You guys know I love my boys.  Right!  I love them a LOT.

But y'all, this week has been SO challenging!  

Bob and I are both up to our eyeballs in work for our actual paying jobs right now.  It's a busy time as our companies are coming out of the holiday slow periods.  Stress and work and phone calls and blah!

And then there's prep for lacrosse.  Not complaining about this one because I actually (mostly) really enjoy this stuff, but there's a LOT of work that goes into kicking off a spring lacrosse season for 220 boys.  Logistics are NO JOKE.  I have easily spent a couple of hours every day this week on this "hobby" of mine...  not complaining, but it's work that needs to be done and I'm the one who needs to get it done.  

And then it went and snowed.  And got freezing.  And school was cancelled for 2 days.  This has changed ALL our plans this week.  It has changed wrestling tournaments and practice schedules and of course the boys have been stuck at home all week.  

Perfect storm.

The result is a SERIOUSLY depleted "snackin' closet" and 4 boys who have essentially run a muck most of the week.  This picture is from dinner last night.  Your eyes are not deceiving you, they are all in pajamas.  We did get them to get dressed today and at least the big ones bathed.  

Tomorrow they go to school!  (Thank goodness!)

Tomorrow is also the Mother/Son Laser Tag extravaganza at the elementary school and Spencer is participating in a JV tournament as the varsity tournament is cancelled for the weekend.  Also Quinn starts lacrosse practice this weekend.  Hang on - Spring season craziness starts in 3.... 2.... 1.... GO!