Another birthday, another cake

January 24, 2011

I haven’t blogged much lately. I mean to — I keep thinking of things I’d like to blog about. Like how my Gen Y employees don’t know the movie Broadcast News, even the one who studied journalism. Or like how men seem to get bored of driving the car they used to love, even though it’s still a perfectly wonderful car, but they’re bored so want a new one. Or how my Boomer client has come to realize that the retirement home in a quiet community isn’t for her, because she’d be bored, and what does that say about retirement. And if boomers aren’t retiring, what does that mean for Gen X? Or about how I’ve come to realize that there are probably no jobs for me that someone thinks is full time that I couldn’t do part time like I’m doing now. Or like how I can’t seem to find time for blogging but I can find time for twitter.

But I haven’t found time to blog in ages, so those entries will have to wait (although now that I’ve written them down, maybe I’ll get to them sooner).

So instead I’m blogging about my kid’s birthday. Mostly so I can brag about his cake, which I made. I make the cakes for my kids’ birthdays every year, and I let the kids choose what their cakes will be. Some years they make it really tough, but this year my younger son made it easy. He was having an art party and they’d be making clay penguins, and since he’s obsessed with Club Penguin (a kids social networking site — another blog post there sometime!), he wanted a penguin cake. So I delivered. What do you think? Did I nail it?

How I survive December without entering a mall, or The beauty of small shops

December 13, 2010

I hate malls. I’ve always hated malls. Even when I was a teenager and worked in a mall for three years, I wan’t big on malls. I don’t like the crowds, I don’t like the cooped-up indoors feel of them. These days, I most hate the same-ness of the stores and the throngs of crowds. In fact, in our first months together, one of the first times my now-husband told me he loved me was when I told him I hated malls.

So you can imagine just how very much I hate malls around Christmas. I make an annual vow not to darken the door of a mall all of December (yet even I make an exception on Boxing Day to brave the crowds for sales, although I never queue up to enter any store).

While it’s easy enough to get my holiday shopping done before the deadline, especially this year with Hanukah starting December 1, that doesn’t mean I have no shopping to do all month. Sometime you just have to get something that you can only buy at the mall store.

On the weekend, I really needed to buy a certain-sized curtain rod. I tried driving across town to a fabric store, but they didn’t have the one I needed, which really just left me the department store at the local mall. I had to go the mall. But I tried to outsmart the mall. I went to the upper parking lot no one ever uses, came into the department store only, found my curtain rod and headed straight to cash. Five minutes–I could have held my breath — except for the ridiculously long waits at the checkout.

I thought I would collapse from anti-mall-itis, but someone with a huge basket of stuff let me cut ahead for my quick purchase and I escaped mostly unscathed.

The funny thing is the next day, still the weekend, I was walking along the street of my local shopping block, which features some of the same stores as the mall but also many smaller boutiques and coffee shops. And those stores were busy but not crushing. I could go in without hyperventilating, and I could get served and buy what I needed without huge waits or loads of frustration.

This has really renewed my faith in local shopping areas, in small shops and customer service, and has also renewed my vow to stay the heck out of a mall after December 1 every other year. I vow, never to return. At least, not until Boxing Day.

Almost finished my holiday shopping — can you believe it?!

November 20, 2010

The minute Halloween ended, Christmas season began. Or so says the retail world. November 1 I heard my first carol and saw my first splash of red and green. Are there people who like having two months of Christmas? Because I am not one of them.

Before you jump all over me and call me Scrooge, may I point out that I am Jewish and do not celebrate Christmas at all. In fact, ever since I was a kid, not celebrating Christmas was a big part of defining ourselves as Jews. Our Christmas tradition is to go out for Chinese food and go see a movie. Of course, these days all the goyim go see movies too, so it’s a lot more crowded than when I was a kid. So while I like the lights and the days off and the parties and food, I don’t like having Christmas thrown at me in an overwhelming way for such a long time.

Not that any of that has anything to do with what I’m about to brag about — I have nearly finished my holiday shopping. Despite being Jewish, I still have to keep up with the Jones and buy my kids presents, only for Chanukah (a very minor Jewish holiday that falls sometime around Christmas that has turned into a gift-giving occasion, not that it was that when I was a kid). And this year I hit the early November sales, made lists, and have bought all but a few of my gifts already. I know, you hate me.

If it makes you feel any better, Chanukah is early this year — December 1-8 — so I had to get shopping earlier. And I still have to figure out the food and clothes part (I have nothing nice to wear for the party I’m throwing!).

But come on, you hate me, don’t you. Ha ha.

Wearing three hats, and making that work

November 11, 2010

I’m a consultant, so it means I work for more than one client at once. That’s normal. And I work in public relations, so doing some media relations work, where I’m trying to get media attention for a client, is normal too. But today has been an unusual day, because I’ve had three issues in front of media today for three different clients.

Whenever my cell phone rang, I had to be careful who I was speaking for before the conversation got too far. It was certainly a busy day for me, but I’m proud to say all three issues ended up getting coverage, all three clients were thrilled to be contacted by media that I pitched on their behalf, and I managed not to mess up and put on the wrong hat at any time.

Although I did mess up when I was pitching media yesterday. I copied and pasted an email from one message to another, but forgot to delete the part about my pitch making a great story for that particular paper. So yes, I named the competitor. Whoops! Thank heavens for humility. I quickly noticed my mistake and sent an apology to the editor whose paper I mis-named, and lo and behold they covered the story today anyhow.

My productive day — learning humility, changing hats, and having happy clients. If only my home life went that smoothly at bedtime!

What to wear for work if you’re not a lawyer

November 1, 2010

I have a hard time choosing wardrobe for those work days when I’m downtown. I’ve always had trouble with this — I am not much of one for dressing up, and I hate how so many clothes fit me (and I’m cheap — I mean frugal) so I have a limited wardrobe to begin with, but figuring out what’s appropriate for an office seems tough.

My old job was with a construction group, but the office dress was “business casual.” I’m not really sure what “business casual” is supposed to mean, other than the fact that t-shirts and jeans are not allowed. Women at that office wore denim skirts, or cotton pants, or other stuff that to me seemed less dressy than my nice jeans. But that was the rule at the office.

And my new job has an informal feel to it, despite being surrounded by lawyers and working in a downtown office. Jeans are okay, and casual is fine, unless you’re seeing non-staff people or doing something important in front of others, like an interview or something. So my “business casual” wardrobe stretched here too. Even with my limited choices, I’m only supposed to be in the office two days a week, so can usually find what to wear.

But as of last week, the dressing up begins. Because I’m working on a judicial inquiry, and we’re now into the courtroom phase of our work. So almost every day that I come downtown now, I’m at the court. And ALL the lawyers wear suits and ties. The female lawyers wear suits too. And there’s a chance that on any day I’m at court, I might have to give an interview to media, so I have to look professional. Of course, the media with whom I deal are almost never dressed up. Most of them are in jeans or casual clothes, but that doesn’t mean I can be as casual as them.

I once heard that if you want to see how a professional woman should dress, watch the ladies on the Apprentice (yes, Donald Trump‘s show). I guess it’s true — they all dress nice, although this season I find the women dress a bit too sexy for what I would have considered boardroom wear.

Anyhow, most women I see in downtown Vancouver are not dressed like the Apprentice ladies. We’re a lot less telegenic, and we wear more reasonable shoes and show less cleavage. But if I ride the elevators at the high rise towers where the lawyers and financial types work, the level of dress is definately above “business casual.” Is it harder for us middle-aged Gen Xers to figure out this dress thing? The Gen Y types I see seem to have less issues going from dressed down to dressed up. Of course, most Gen Y ladies don’t have the post-baby, middle-aged middle we older mommies tend to have. 

So I’ll have to dig out my two suits, my handful of blazers, and start looking for more formal work wear for my downtown days. Thank heavens I’ll be working at home the other three days, when I can wear jeans, or even pyjamas.

Are you a “hockey mom” or a “soccer mom”?

October 1, 2010

The New Oxford Dictionary has added a whole wack of new words to the dictionary this year, and while I can’t muster a tonne of enthusiasm that “bromance” and “hashtag” made the list, I am excited that moms have a new definition for our activities. This year, “hockey mom” made the list:

hockey mom n. informal a mother who devotes a great deal of time and effort to supporting her children’s participation in ice hockey.

Now, obviously a hockey mom is much more devoted than a “soccer mom,” which Merriam Webster defines as:

soccer mom n. a typically suburban mother who accompanies her children to their soccer games and is considered as part of a significant voting bloc or demographic group

Obviously we soccer moms are just stuck in our situations, whereas hockey moms put the drive into driving your kid to sports.

My kids don’t play hockey, but even if the definition applies to other sports, I think I’m much more of a soccer mom than a hockey mom. But boy, do I know a lot of hockey moms!

Last summer, when I was coaching Little League baseball, we had a dad who really pushed for his kid on our team, and we called him a “hockey dad.” Can’t find that one in online dictionaries, but I always thought the hockey dad was the guy who pushed so hard that he got into fights with other hockey dads and coaches to get his kid more play time. Obviously, that is not the hockey mom.

Soccer mom was a term invented to define mostly baby boomer suburban moms, so it’s nice to see that we Gen X moms now have a term all our own.

Do stay-at-home moms everywhere dress up, or just in my neighbourhood?

September 22, 2010

Today was a work at home day for me, and I had some time, so I did the mom thing.

For example, I walked my kids to school. I was in my workout gear, because I planned to work out right after I dropped them. My son asked if he could have his friend over after school, since today seemed to be the one day we had no afternoon or evening plans (swimming and soccer kick into high gear by next week). We saw his friend being dropped off (in the car, even though they only live two blocks farther than we do) so I went to talk to his mom. She too was in her grubbies, looking like she just threw some clothes on and ran out the door. I felt like an equal.

I finished work early so I could pick up the boys for their playdate after school. I brought them home and made them a healthy snack. Still lots of good mom stuff. Then after a couple hours, his mom came to pick him up, and I felt like I failed the mom test.

His mom was all dressed up — she was wearing an outfit nicer than what I would wear to the office. Her hair was coiffed, she had matching jewelry and accessories. And then there was me. I was wearing old jeans, a t-shirt, my hair was a mess, and it doesn’t help that she’s half a foot taller than me. I felt like a shlub (is that a real word?). To hear her tell it, she didn’t have any special reason to dress up, she just dresses like this on a regular basis. I’ve seen her on other occasions, and I think that is true.

So despite the fact that I was cooking dinner, and even cooking an extra entree for tomorrow’s dinner when I’ll be working late, despite entertaining another nine-year-old and giving them healthy snacks, I just can’t be one of the stay-at-home moms, even on the occasional day. Because I can’t, for the life of me, imagine why, if you were at home all day, and only taking care of your family and home that day, you would want to dress up. If I am not going to an office or meeting clients, I don’t always wear sweats and t-shirts, but I would never accessorize.

So is it just my overpriced neighbourhood where the moms dress up? It’s like some 1960s Mad Men flashback here. Do they dress up where you live? I guess there are some mom situations where I can never fit in. I just can’t accessorize.