Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why Being A SAHM Is Like Being A Coal Miner.

Dear Stay At Home Moms (& Dads),

I am going to admit something that will make you want to punch me in my saggy boob.

I used to look at you from behind my corporate desk and think you spent hours doing yoga.

This isn't a farfetched conclusion because when spotted in your natural habitat (Target on a weekday afternoon), you were clad in yoga gear looking incredibly jacked.

When I signed on to join the SAHM club I anxiously awaited my Mom Yoga pass. I was nervous because I detest yoga, but it seemed like a requirement of the position. I was ready.

Months have passed and still I wait for my pass, yet frequently I find myself in Target on a Tuesday afternoon in yoga gear looking pretty strong.

"How is this remotely possible?" you ask.

Oh, it's possible because being a SAHM is like being a DAMN COAL MINER.

I've never mined coal, but I've seen enough of the dads on Teen Mom talk about the mines to be able to understand what it's like.
Into The Mine We Go!

First off, coal miners don't care about their appearance because SURVIVAL is the name of the game. Zippers, snaps, and "dry clean only" garments will slow you down in the event of a very possible explosion.

You may believe that mining explosions are much more dangerous than the ones I encounter, but don't judge until you've experienced a diaper blowout at 5000 feet or pushed a cart through the grocery store while your son screams for "crack" (crackers) and you sprint to the loading dock exit lest child protective services is in the next aisle. The coal miners and I need breathable cotton to survive the everyday.

Secondly, like my friends in the mine, I am pretty jacked because I engage in MANUAL LABOR for 12 hours a day.

Bending, lifting, cleaning, wiping, running, and chasing now take up a day formerly filled with motionless, yet strangely exhausting, corporate strife. Don't believe staying at home compares to backbreaking mine work? Here's a True Life story to prove it:

My husband has a Nike fuel band that uses magical wizardry to give him 
daily "fuel points." On days that he works out and then 
has a regular office experience, his number is around 4000. 

When I went away for a weekend my husband had to
care for the baby which meant working out didn't fit into the schedule. 
His fuel points on those days without working out? 

Analogy proven! Yes, I realize this would be a stronger case were my husband a miner during the week, so I've got a few more salient points. Read on.

Thirdly, like a coal miner I engage in work that is FREQUENTLY LOOKED DOWN UPON.

Let's all just agree that outside of Teen Mom, mining is the opposite of an aspirational career choice.

And oh, whatever, you would never judge a woman for her choice. I was, and still am, a Judgy McJudgerson. I rolled my eyes from my little ivory tower of corporate excess and thought things like, "She stays home? What? Can she not read?" and then laughed at my own wit.

Note: I am not making a social statement about the literacy of our coal mining population. It is purely coincidental that I used to say this and now live like a coal miner.

Lastly, the miners and me (Yes, I should use "I" instead of "me" but I like the alliteration of "miners and me" so don't start thinking I am one of those SAHMs I thought couldn't read) do a job that is UNDERPAID.

I know the Teen Mom dads are thrilled about "good mining money," but I'm guessing they are not adequately compensated for staring down death since nary a miner makes the Forbes "Richest People on the Planet" list.

Like the miners, I am not paid enough but, unfortunately, am aware of my sad economic plight. I think I should be paid triple my former salary because my valuable brain cells are being replaced with every verse of "The Wheels On The Bus." I would like to be compensated for bravely staring down the death of my brain.

So, SAHMs (& Dads), what do you have to say for yourselves? Pickaxes where yoga pants were promised? You're the ones who should be punched in your saggy boob.

This is the most egregious case of false advertising I've seen. I'm calling the FTC. The gig is up.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Eat This, Not That! Toddler Edition

 Eat string cheese, not snowglobes!

Eat Hot (All-Natural Turkey) Dogs, Not the How To Epublish Guide!

Eat Cheerios, not Chapstick!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pictures Of A Kitchen (Renovation).

Mama Kat, have you been reading my diary?  You see, but I know you know, my kitchen makes numerous appearances there which are usually preceded or followed by expletives.

Since my dear diary has been compromised, I will air my dirty laundry.
My kitchen story began in May when I resigned from my job and felt the weight of a solar system fall from my shoulders.

So happy to have left a job where sales numbers kept me up in cold sweats all night, I became a passive partner in a cross-country move. Guilt about my lack of gainful employment made me a yes-woman.

Catatonic, I watched as we bought a house that needed a bit of work.

Many would have had between 8 and 10 nervous breakdowns had their past 8 months been like mine. I'm not saying this to earn a Badass Badge.  I'm saying this to clearly illustrate that I was more blacked out than a college freshman. How else could I have:
Jolted awake from passivity by plastic window coverings in my house that brought terrifying memories of the movie ET, I had a pounding headache and the surprise of my life.

I am eight months pregnant with a kitchen.

I hope to fall immediately in love when the new addition is ready and gush that my life was empty before it was here, but these eight month pictures make that very hard to believe.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Home Gym.

Since I haven't been to the gym in a year, I am making the most of my home gym.  See it below?  Can you find 10 workout stations?  I can!

1.  The Stairstepper.  Up and down all day long.  We "live" on the second floor of a three floor townhouse.  For an extra challenge I sometimes walk up with groceries and a baby.  

2.  The Hurdle.  The giant gate keeps the boy in and the dog out and never comes down.  My passport off the second floor?  A quick 400M hurdle.

3.  Capture The Flag.  Every once in a while my little rascal squeezes through the gate and takes off for the third floor.  I have to capture him before he harms himself or the stairs.  Unlike an hour long spin class, this game lasts all day long.

4-6: The Kitchen Station.

4. Shotput.  When the little boy gets into the spice cabinet, shotput begins.  I am the shotput retriever. This person doesn't get as much glory as the thrower, but burns some serious calories.

5. Upper Body Toning.  Every kitchen surface two feet above the floor is covered with tiny handprints.  I wax on and off like Mr. Miagi is judging me in the corner.

6. Core Strengthening.  My little boy likes to wrap himself around my legs with a grip that the jaws of life can't undo.  I walk around the kitchen with a 20+ pound ankle weight, great for the core.

7.  Bend and Lift. Note there is only one toy in this picture.  This is because I just picked up 723 others.  Lots of bending and lifting.  If you recognized the toy bear as the Waldo of this puzzle, give yourself an extra 50 points.

8.  Curling.  No, not weights, the weird Olympic sport that looks like bowling.  Anyway, see how dark that floor is?  I spend 20% of the day working the handheld vacuum while my little boy tries to beat me to the dust.  We are a competitive curling duo.

9.  Pitching Practice.  Since the gate separates the boy and his highchair from the dog, I get lots of practice tossing scraps over his way.  My "morsel of chicken" fastball can't be beat.

10.  Zumba.  This is where the boy and I turn on Pandora and dance our hearts out.  This involves lifts, lunges, squats, and more excited squeals than I ever got out of the elliptical.

Anyone else not need the gym anymore?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

An Open Letter to Ideal Image.

Dear Ideal Image,

Congratulations on your market penetration. In every major city I live in or visit I hear a peppy female radio personality touting your hair removal services. You have lasered your brand onto the American consumers' collective conscience, pun completely intended.

I have some questions for you, though, the first around your research. You say women spend an hour a week shaving. Who did you talk to? 

I ask because I don't spend an hour a YEAR shaving. Your target must not be moms or anyone with more important things to do than wash their hair. Perhaps you conducted research with women in the adult entertainment business? If so, you loaded the guns and should petition Harvard to be a case study. The men in the class would NEVER crack it because they might believe all women shave an hour each week, especially if they're not married.

My next question pertains to your positioning research. If the benefit of laser hair removal is truly an extra 52 hours in a year did your target tell you it would be wise to position this extra time as 60 more minutes for shopping? Kelly, the DJ on 107.9, claims your customers should use the gift of time bestowed by your lasers at the mall.

This blows my mind. If someone stole an hour a week from me of quiet shower time, I would hide it like a damn treasure chest and tack on an unnecessary 15 minutes to every shower.

Yeah, I know the math doesn't add up, but let's not get all judgmental about how many times I shower a week, ok?

Your research, and marketing team, missed the obvious.  

You offer a way to never shave EVER AGAIN. Smooth legs until the end of time with no effort from the legs' owner is enough. Stop right there. Don't get all weird with time saved. 

As many marketers do, you forgot to keep it simple. Raspy-voiced DJs and claims of an extra 52 hours a year and your farfetched claim leave me wondering about the quality of your laser hair removal. If your techs are anything like your marketing team, your clients should be very worried.

Lucky for you I am available for a marketing consult. I await your call.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Picture Just for Kicks

Here we are before a thankfully uneventful flight.  This brings our grand total up to 20 flights.  TWENTY flippin' flights by ourselves, too many delays to count, one unexpected overnight stay, hundreds of annoyed passengers, dozens of kind flight attendants, 10 in-flight diaper changes, two sprints through ATL, three treks through the weird-ass tunnel in Detroit, and one little boy who already has a love of travel adventures.

Don't we appear to both be ready to go as if flying with a 13 month old or flying if you are a 13 month old is no big deal?  

Have a great weekend and look for some fun changes to my blog next week.  Innovation, folks, it's what keeps brands alive.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Delta, You Are Full Of Surprises.

Dear Delta,

I didn't think that you, the usual cause of unexpected airport hotel stays and sprints through ATL, had room in your sleeves for anymore tricks.  Today you proved me wrong.

I called you, credit card and sick baby in hand, to move our flight so that the next chapter in my flying guide wouldn't be "Flying 1500 Miles with a 102 Degree Fever?  No problem!"  I decided that $150 was a small price to pay for keeping this from my growing list of travel adventures.

In an admittedly authoritarian tone I told your customer service rep that I did not expect to be charged the change fee because my baby was simply too sick for a plane.  I viewed this as a futile endeavor, necessary only to maintain my self-respect.

After a few minutes the fee was waived.  My jaw hit my feverish boy's forehead.

Before Mom Sabbatical, I traveled once a week, changed flights almost as frequently, and NEVER got out of the change fee.  Travel rage was your only freebie.

Here's the thing, guys.  I get it.  I used to work for a "heritage" brand where we watched the JetBlues and Southwests of our industry with envy.  They were smaller, hipper, and less bureaucratic.  Customers loved them but we saw them as minor annoyances and deemed ourselves too big to fail.  Without a paycheck to cloud my thinking, I am fairly certain the old brand will fail.  

See the analogy?

Today, however, I saw a glimmer of hope for you.  With an inexpensive gesture, you wiped away years months of Delta ill-will.  Was it so hard?

If you can, find the customer service rep who helped me and congratulate her on a job well done.  She told me she might get in trouble.  Wouldn't it be nice if she got a congratulatory call from someone important instead?

In return, I may change the way I have you listed in my phone.

First name: Delta
Last name: Shouldn't Be In Business
What I See On My Phone When I Call: Delta Shouldn't Be In Business

While this ALWAYS makes me laugh when I call from the Tarmac about a flight I am about to miss, I felt bad about it today.

Ok, not too bad.  I still laughed.  We've got a ways to go before that changes.  Good luck!

annie (former super-duper mile earner turned Mom)

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Inner Fitness Freak Is On The "C-Suiters To Watch" List.

This is the time of year I usually rant and rave about the New Year's Resolutioners overrunning the gym.  If you're feeling this, just make it MLK without throwing anyone from the elliptical and they will go away.  They always do.

This year, I'm not high and mighty about the gym because I haven't seen the inside of one since early 2012.  I am, however, high and mighty about my inner fitness freak.  She hasn't been a pain in the ass since '97 just for kicks!  A true visionary, she saw the future and kicked into gear a strategy to better prepare us for its arrival.  Times changed and she felt pressure to change direction, but being a wise female CEO, she stuck with it for over 15 years.

You see, without the gym, I haven't turned into a 300 pound sumo wrestler.  Sure, my legs are a bit flabby and my abs more like jello than steel, but things are more or less under control.

All those early mornings and hours spent training for marathons finally make sense.  They weren't, self-serving beads of unnecessary sweat, they were deposits in the workout bank, and let me tell you, I am rich!  I can live off the interest, make modest deposits while I chase a one-year old around the house, and not have to see the inside of a gym for at least another year.

Thank you, fitness-freak self.

When college roommates laughed at your steadfast afternoon date with the gym, you charged on.  When others said training for marathons was a bit overzealous, you picked up the torch.  When you broke my body running,  you subbed in crazy-ass workout sessions.  While pregnant, you made us spin, boot camp, and swim like a whale up until Week 39.

I always knew you were crazy, m'lady but didn't realize, until now, that you are crazy like a fox.  Thanks for scheduling this break.  I'll see you at the gym in 2014.

Ps.  There is supposed to be a picture here of me and my weight machine, but I can't figure out how to do this away from home so that will come later in the week.  Mark your calendars.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Flying Glow Worms Make For Mean Flight Attendants.

Here we are in the icy tundra of Upstate NY for a visit with my family which required another travel adventure for the little boy and me.

It was uneventful except for the short "throwing" phase during which the little maniac threw everything he could get his grabby little hands on across the aisle.  In-flight magazines, animal crackers, and his glow worm were victims of his powerful discus throw.

The glow worm ricocheted off a seat and landed at the feet of a stern Delta flight attendant who told me that in close quarters it would be best if he dropped items straight down instead of launching them toward innocent passengers.

She went on for about 30 seconds too long and all I could say back, in just as stern a voice, was "I know."

Were I faster on my feet and not trying to wrangle a squirmy 13 month old, I would have said, "Can you sit down and explain that to him?  I'm sure he'll understand."

I hate when I come up with the retort 24 hours too late.

What would you have said?  Or would you have simply handed the boy the glow worm and hoped for a bullseye?