Who Am I?

by Kim

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So this is by no means meant to set off a debate between Working Moms vs. Stay-at-Home moms (because let’s face it, there is NO real winner in that debate)- it’s just an observation I’ve had in trying to juggle both.

I’ve taken a job working for Credit.com, a truly amazing company (and I’m not just saying that b/c they are paying me – but I guess that does help!) they really are a great group of people who value what I can bring to the table. And truth be told, I’ve learned more in the last two weeks than I did in the last 5-years at my last job. BUT there’s a catch, a caveat of sorts – instead of going into the “office” I get to work from home.

As a mom of two little ones, working from home is something I should welcome, fully embrace with open arms, go shouting from the rooftops about – but I’m not quite there yet.

You see the “corporate world” is all I know; it’s ingrained in who I am. For the past 16+ years, I’ve gotten up, gotten dressed, gotten on the train, and gone into the office (well a cubicle, but you understand what I’m saying).

Now-a-days, I get up, throw on some yoga pants and go to my “home office”. No makeup, no “dressing up”, no socialization (unless you count the two days a week my kids are home with me & then its less about socialization and more about playing referee between the two of them) — no lunch meetings, none of the “traditional” things you equate with going to work. I’ve traded my heels for sneakers, Crocs, OR flip-flops – blowouts for headbands and ponytails, and business travel for more time with my family.

Again, I know what you’re going to say, “WHY THE HELL IS SHE COMPLAINING?” and I’m not (really I’m not) I’m just having a hard time figuring out AND redefining who I am.

Don’t get me wrong, there are A LOT of perks to working from home. For starters, I’ve found the kitchen again. No joke, I cooked homemade meals – from scratch, two, sometimes three nights in a row — that’s more than I’ve done in well forever. When I was working full-time outside of the home, I did a lot of heating things up – be it pizza, chicken nuggets, etc.

PLUS, more laundry is getting done, my skin looks better (maybe this “au natural” -NO make up thing is actually good for something?! )AND I’ve gotten some “me” time back by taking longer runs in the morning, and taking the long way to pick up my boys from school –because I have the time now and I’m not living life in perpetual motion (http://2momsonatrain.com/2013/11/12/do-all-moms-live-in-perpetual-motion/)  BUT I am pretty sure the cat hates me being around more; I keep thinking if I could just win her over that would at least be one work “friend“.

I DO NOT have all the answers. All I can tell you is that I’m taking it one day at a time trying to figure out how the new me and the old me can live harmoniously, side by side singing “Kumbayah” by the campfire…WISH ME LUCK, G-d knows I need it!

Spring Totes for Work

By Sara

Spring has arrived and I don’t know about you, but I am so ready to turn in my winter bags for a fun, easy-to-carry tote that can fit everything I need for work.  Here are some of my favs    #happyspring

Grace East/West Leather Tote Bag, Camel. shopbop.com. $595

B Brian Atwood Grace East/West Leather Tote Bag, Camel. shopbop.com. $595

Isabella Item Tote Lilac. annabelingall.com. $465

Isabella Item Tote Lilac. annabelingall.com. $465

Clare Vivier Poppy Nubuck Messenger Bag. needsupply.com $380

Clare Vivier Poppy Nubuck Messenger Bag.
needsupply.com $380

  The Holepunhc Tote, Madewell.com. $188 The Holepunch Transport Tote

The Holepunhc Tote, Madewell.com. $188

Goyward Tote.  Barneys. $1676

Goyard Tote. Barneys. $1676

Riding the Roller Coaster known as LIFE

by Kim

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It’s been almost two weeks since I lost my mom.  Ironically enough, I got the news while driving home from a friend’s mom’s wake.  Oh, and just in case you are keeping track, my mom’s death came almost exactly one-month after I got laid off.

To say that I have been tested over this past month is an UNDERSTATEMENT.  I would describe it more as having been tied to the back of a car and dragged around the block a few times…yeah, that’s more accurate!

Funny enough right before my mom passed I was feeling good.  The roller coaster had just hit bottom (my layoff) and I was slowly moving up (landing a job with a great company) .   I was completely blindsided by the next hill (my mom’s death) which has since left me in a free fall screaming out PLEASE STOP THE RIDE!

However, truth be told these two, very different life events have more in common then I could have ever imagined; AND have taught me more about myself (and others) then I’ve ever wanted to learn!

You see, I’ve never been a big fan of people.  I’ve uttered the words “I hate people” a few hundred times (ok, maybe a few hundred thousand times)  but both my layoff and mom’s death have taught me otherwise.  From the friend who has called once a week to check in on me since my layoff TO another who has texted me everyday since my mom’s death; both have helped to renew my faith in people.   Not to mention the countless cards, donations, flowers and baskets that have arrived at my house with honest messages of love and support; and though I cry everyday around 1pm as the mailman makes his way up my driveway (AND I would gladly give everything back for another minute with my mom), my reservation and doubt that I once had about people is slowly lifting.

I’ve also learned A LOT about myself.  How many times have I mailed out sympathy cards?   How many times have I written the words “my thoughts and prayers are with you“?    And though there are NO “right” words to say when a loved one passes,  writing “my thoughts & prayers are with you” have almost become routine, part of the “norm” that I include..that is until now.  I will NEVER write these words again without truly meaning them; without stopping for a minute to think of someone else in their time of need.

There’s no doubt that I will be forever changed (both good and bad) by the events of the past month…BUT for now I live by a new motto which is to TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME (or one hill at a time).   I will go on enjoying and embracing each new day…and continue clutching the seat on this roller coaster known as LIFE!

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I love you mom!

 

Train Mom Chat with JJ Ramberg, host of MSNBC’s “Your Business”

By Sara

Every weekend morning you can find JJ Ramberg on MSNBC’s Your Business, helping millions of small business owners across the country.

JJ Ramberg, Host of MSNBC's Your Business

JJ Ramberg, Host of MSNBC’s Your Business

JJ is not only passionate about small business, she has firsthand experience as an entrepreneur.  With her brother, she co-founded GoodSearch.com/Goodshop.com, a socially responsible company that has transformed philanthropy into an everyday activity. To date, Goodsearch has raised $11 million for organizations ranging from the American Red Cross to local high schools and animal shelters.

Not only is JJ a television anchor, leader in her field and an entrepreneur, she’s also a busy working mom. So in between interviews, airport runs and family time, JJ answered a few questions for this week’s Train Mom Chat (#TMC):

                                                                                                                                               
1.Your MSNBC show, “Your Business” is dedicated to issues affecting small business owners. In a way, moms are the owners of their own small business (aka their family). What’s something that you have learned from small business owners that would translate over to moms to help them better manage their own “families”?

On the show, we often talk about how business owners need to be nimble and open-minded. They should test out their products and services and if the customers aren’t responding to them, they should change them. Now obviously this does not completely translate into the day-to-day of being a mom (or else I would be serving ice cream for dinner every night!), but the broader idea of being nimble does. If you have set a schedule or routine for your family and it’s not working, don’t be afraid to shake it up a bit. There is not just one right way of doing things.

We also talk a lot about business owners spending their time properly on the important things and this absolutely translates to being a mom. There are too few hours in the day to get everything done, so spend your time where you feel it counts.

2. Of all the successful working moms that you have interviewed, is there one mom that has inspired you most? If, so who and why?

My mom really inspired me. She told me that when we were kids, she was pressured by other women her age to go out and get a job, but she decided that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and was lucky enough to be in a position to do so. Then, when she was in her mid-40’s, my mom and my brother, who had just graduated from college, decided to start a company together called JOBTRAK (depending on how old you are, you may remember it – it provided job listings to college kids). Keep in mind, this was the ‘80s – long before students were starting billion dollar companies in their dorm rooms – and a stay-at-home mom and recent college grad did not exactly conjure up images of an entreprenurial dream team. As you can imagine, there were a lot of naysayers. But, just like she ignored those friends who earlier on suggested she get a job, she ignored the people who said her company would be a failure. She and my brother worked very hard and built an incredibly successful company which they eventually sold to Monster.com.

3. What advice do you have for moms looking to start their own business? What are the five things they need to know.

- Most ideas are not that original – so what your idea is may not matter as much as if you are you the one to execute it well.

- Test your idea – on friends, people at the local coffee shop – anyone who is in your target market. You can take people for coffee and chat with them or have an informal focus group at your house or send out free surveys (surveymonkey.com offers this service). Chances are you will get some feedback that will modify your idea.

- Surround yourself with people who know more than you do. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, so get advice on the basics from people with experience. This will shorten your learning curve.

- If you are starting a company with a friend, think about everything that can go wrong and have some very honest talks with each other about those scenarios. This will help you get a good feel as to whether you are making the right decision by partnering up.

- And finally, ask yourself what your tolerance for risk is. Starting a business is not easy. It can be very fun and exciting, but it is a lot of hard work and there is no guarantee that the company will be successful.

4. Is there such a thing as a work/life balance? If so, how do you make it work?

I’m not quite sure what people mean by “balance.” Can you have a good job that you enjoy and also get to spend quality time with your family? Sure. Can you give 100% to each of them. Of course not. So, I think the key is to figure out what is important to you and work backwards from there.

So, my idea on how to make it work: Picture yourself 10 years from now and do you think you’ll feel more regret if you missed out on a big career opportunity or picking your kids up from school more often. I feel like that helps clarify what’s important. Once you figure that out, you can make your decisions accordingly. Balance is often just a series of choices we make throughout the day – should I say yes to writing this article or take my son to his afterschool program; should I go on that field trip or have a coffee with someone who can help with my job etc…. There are no right answers. It’s a personal decision.

But, to keep things in perspective, it’s important to remember — if we are wondering if we have enough “balance” in our lives, we are lucky. Most people are not in that position.

5. How do you commute to work? What is your favorite thing to do during your commute? what do you read? watch? listen to?

I take the subway from Brooklyn to midtown. I usually read the newspaper on the way to work. On the way home I often read transcripts of an interview I’ve done for my program or books/articles written by my guests. Or, if I’ve already done all my homework, I’ll read a book or magazine for fun.

Let’s Go To The CIRCUS!

by Kim

 

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Thanks to FELD Entertainment & DiGennaro Communications, this train mom recently took a trip “under the BIG TOP” and got the chance to check out LEGENDS presented by Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus.

It’s been some time since I was at the circus and truth be told I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was excited at the thought of seeing it through my children’s eyes; knowing they would LOVE all of the circus animals, BUT I wasn’t sure they would enjoy the other parts of the “show“…Would it be too loud?  Would it be too overwhelming?  Would they be freaked out by the clowns?   (YES, I have one of “those” kids who is scared of characters, clowns, even the Ronald McDonald one!)  BUT BOY WAS I WRONG…AND further more, I’m really not sure who enjoyed it more, ME or THEM!

LEGENDS is a true extravaganza.  In talking to friends and family about it, I’ve honestly compared it to a Broadway show that is filled with music, singing, dancing, and somewhat of a story line too as it examines the “Legends” of the past: which include Unicorns, Wooly Mammoths, even a Pegasus.  (*Minor caveat, if you’ve ever tried explaining to a 3-year-old why that horse from the circus has wings and why we can’t ever see another one… be warned it’s quite PAINFUL!)

LEGENDS also has so many “traditional” things that the circus is known for as well: the Lion Tamer, the high-flying Acrobats, the “Globe of Steel” (in which 8 motorcycles ride in circles inside of a steel cage, which was SUPER COOL!), the colorful costumes, and the amazing circus animals: performing dogs, horses, and of course the legendary Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus Elephants.

My only negative would be to say that the show is long, but not in a bad way.  It’s fast-moving and you won’t even realize that you’ve been there for 3-hours! (You’ll be too busy smiling, cheering, laughing, and clapping!)  However, our show started at 7pm, we got there early around 6:30pm for the “pre-show”, and the night did not wrap up until after 930pm; SO needless-to-say my boys hit the car and passed out!  (Which is not necessarily a bad thing, just some advice in choosing the time of your show wisely.)

SO, “LADIES & GENTLEMEN, CHILDREN OF ALL AGES”  if you can, be sure to check out LEGENDS by Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!

The show is hitting the road this Spring with scheduled performances all across the country in:  Columbia, SC – Huntsville, AL – Norfolk, Fairfax & Hampton, VA –Youngstown & Cleveland, OH – Providence, RI – Hartford, CT – Trenton, NJ – Hershey, PA – Tulsa, OK – Colorado Springs, CO – Tucson & Phoenix, AZ – Las Vegas, NV – Los Angeles & Anaheim, CA – Atlanta & Duluth, GA – St. Louis, MO  – Nashville, TN – Raleigh, NC & Washington, DC.

My New Love: FaceTime

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By Sara

There are some days I don’t see my kids at all. I leave for work before they wake up and I get home after they are asleep. It kills me. While I should be used to it by now, I am not. I still get that anxious, empty pit feeling in my stomach.

Today was one of those days. I ran out the door and sat on the train wondering if they were up and wishing I could have been there to see them, even if it is just for a minute. Then it occurred to me, I CAN see them.

When I got off the train, I stood in the middle of Grand Central Station and “Facetimed” my kids (via my babysitter). It was awesome. They were brushing their teeth and getting ready for school, and I was giving them a virtual tour of the train station — which in their eyes was super cool. And they were happy!

I reminded me that we are lucky to be surrounded by technologies that make our lives as working moms that much easier to be right there with our kids — to see what they are wearing, see their artwork, see what they are doing and most of all see their little smiles.

Thanks FaceTime for making my day that much better.

Top 10 Reasons We Are Excited About Spring

By Sara and Kim

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We are SO over winter… seriously, is it EVER going to end?  Kim and I are very hopeful, in fact so hopeful that we have already started planning for those coat-less, warmer days.   Check out our list of the Top 10 Reasons We Are Excited About Spring:

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1)     Finally a new wardrobe for the kids – and one that actually fits. Winter has been so long they have literally outgrown all their sweaters and turtlenecks.

2)     Getting rid of the snot rags and humidifiers.

3)     Trading in skis for scooters.

4)     Getting rid of the hats, coats, gloves, scarfs.  Now if I could just find all those missing gloves!!                              stella3

5)     Longer days… more outdoor play and new activities.

6)     Natures REAL Vitamin D.

7)     Summer is now only ONE season away.

8)     Bring on the color.  We are so sick of looking out at grey, brown and white backyards. We want to see green grass, tulips, daffodils and lilac.

9)     Does this mean our kids will finally be over watching “FROZEN” and signing “Do You Want to Build A Snowman” for the millionth time?                                     Stella2

10) Happy parents = happy kids

*photos featured are from Stella McCartney’s new spring line for kids.  So fun and fresh!  Check out the full collection here.