Monday, January 16, 2017

Trying To Make A Dollar Out of 16 Cents

Call me a cruel mom or call me responsible, but I'm putting my kid to work. Liam is 4 years old and while he sometimes plays the, "I can't do it" card, I know damn well that my kid is way more independent than he likes us knowing. Enough so that I'm giving Liam more responsibility and with more responsibility is a greater chance for reward. While Liam has always picked up here and there, or cleaned up when he made a big mess, we were never strict in applying the rule. Well that's all changing. One because my kid is way more than capable to do chores around the house and two because I can use it as a way to teach him the perk of earning his own money. Having his own money means I don't have to deal with the break down at Target when he wants to buy something AND it also means automatic silence when he does want something, but doesn't have enough money to buy it. I see it as a win/win.

Now we don't have him doing elaborate things, but enough that it makes a dent on my list. Simple things like making your bed, loading the dish washer, clearing your plate after eating, putting away folded clothes, etc are all things that are re-occurring. The repetitiveness of each chore we give him will hopefully develop into a habit that I won't need to nag him anymore about doing what's on his list. I have to admit that sometimes it actually takes longer to get him to do his chores (ie: making his bed requires a good 10 minutes), but it's not just about getting it done, it's about learning core values. 

The incentive of it all though is obviously the allowance. Each day that he does his chores he gets $1 and yes if he misses one of his chores he gets less. While there are times where I've been known to not stick to my threats, an allowance helps me keep my word and make him accountable. He sees his progress every week and is motivated knowing that he needs to money to buy a toy or book he saw at the store. 

So while it would take me 2 mins to do his bed or 1 min to clear his plate, it's not about efficiency. It's a learning experience. While he's learning responsibility, I'm learning to let go of control to just take over. So this whole chore thing is an experience for both of us that I'm hoping will help us in the long run.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Conversation about Kids

Lately many of my conversations have been centered around the question of having kids. I have a good mix of friends who are single, married without kids and married with kids, but this topic of having kids has come up a lot lately. Like on the daily. I'll start off by saying that I support whatever your decision is on this to have kids or not have kids pendulum. To each their own and if you know kids are right for you then you go Glen Coco! So for those who are on the fence, let me share some perspective. Not to change your mind, but hopefully solidify what the right decision is for you.

Liam was unexpected. He wasn't planned, but he wasn't not planned if that makes sense. It just happened. In fact when I found out I woke up Matt at 6am after taking 2 tests, cried tears of uncertainty and asked Matt, "Is this ok?" That should be a red flag when you take a pregnancy test right? That I wasn't happy but I was more like "OH FUCK!" Truth be told the first things that crossed my mind was, what is going to happen to our Europe vacation, how are we going to afford this, then is Matt going to be pissed. Well spoiler alert folks - it all ended up ok in the end, but that's not the end of my story.

I've never been a maternal person. I personally always thought that kids were a natural progression of life so kids were always part of the picture, but was I dying to have kids? No. However, life (the little shit it is) works in funny ways and turns out that having a kid saved me, actually us, in ways that we didn't realize. See, Matt and I pre-child were good. Good as in content. Our careers were going good, we finally got to travel more and were able to indulge in things without thinking about how it's eating into our monthly budget. We were good, but when we had Liam it became better and here's how:

Careers: People talk about how kids sometimes makes people re-evaluate their careers and in some cases forego careers temporarily. In our case, it enlightened us to work harder, better and find jobs that we love. Matt worked in finance and hated almost every minute of it. I worked at a great company with great people but would have been totally complacent if I didn't have Liam. Having a child was the right motivation we needed to not only work hard to still enjoy the lifestyle we lead, but he also empowers us to not settle for something that won't make us happy. Why show a kid how to go to a lifeless job you hate, when you should be supporting their life choices to do what they love?

Personal interests: I always say that you can see a parent's best trait in their kids. Having a child keeps you youthful and is a constant reminder of much more there is to live in life. As Liam is finding his groove in activities he likes or doesn't like, I'm re-establishing a connection with some of the things I lost interest in as I got older. Music, playing sports, or even just getting dirty at the playground makes you more aware of what you can still do now as an adult. It's been fun exploring new interests or re-kindling with things I once loved doing...and it's especially fun when I have my buddy to share those moments with me.

Marriage: Ahhh this is the big one because I'm a TRUE believer that people should never have kids to save a marriage. We definitely didn't have a child to save our marriage, but sometimes it feels like he happened to do just that. Had we not had Liam, I think we would have been ok without having kids. Living a life just the 2 of us. But Liam brought our relationship to a whole new level that has made us stronger. Before we felt like a married couple who are vastly different from one another, but it worked because in our case opposites attract. But now we feel like a unified team. We may not agree on hobbies and our personalities may be different, but when it comes parenting and our lifestyle we couldn't be more unified. Overall we have a greater appreciation for each other and I'll just leave this topic by say that everything all around is much better!

Views on life: Perspective. The biggest thing that having a kid has done to me is given me perspective. Without a child I felt like everything happening to me at that moment was the end all be all. But having Liam changed all that. It made me selfless, aware of others around me and is a constant reminder that this moment now (today, tomorrow or next week) is just a blip on the screen. It really is. With a child in the picture you get to experience things in a different way than you did growing up, maybe in some cases better and you realize that there is so much more to life than the things that consume your day to day.

So in a nutshell. I'll leave you with something I told someone last week when we were discussing this very topic. Not a day goes by where I wish I had my life before Liam. To me that says a lot cause I loved my life pre-child, but my life now is way better in ways that I only hope others can experience.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Dying Act

Over the summer I remember sitting in traffic with my family listening to an NPR story about the elimination of cursive writing in grade schools. The conversation was between a journalist and a teacher in Alabama talking about how the use of cursive writing was dying and that there was no longer a need for it with this generation (or future generations) of kids. It made me sad. Really sad actually, and then my mind drifted to when I was in 1st grade writing 100 lines of "I will not talk in class" on the chalk board as punishment for doing so. All in cursive writing of course. I thought, "Damn, my kid will never experience that kind of cruel discipline."

It got me thinking about how skills that used to be a foundation of how we do things now are slowly going extinct and much like what you learn in the Lorax, it's up to US (yes you too) to keep those things alive. 

I'm a huge fan of the United Postal Service! While going to the actual post office may sometimes be un-pleasant, I've always seen mail as a sort of surprise and delight. As an adult mail is never fun. Between bills (if you still get paper bills), solicitations and the random pieces of mail for the previous tenant, nothing about it is ever really fun. However, getting mail out of the blue for personal reasons is a pleasant surprise. Hence, "surprise and delight". 

But there's more to it.

While a small note in the mail may not seem like a big thing, that's where some people have it wrong. It's a huge thing. In our world today it's so easy for us to shoot a text to someone when you want to say "hey" or "thanks". That dialogue can happen in the matter of seconds. Sending something in the mail though takes some thought and effort that really shows someone why it's meaningful. It's first the thought of sending a handwritten note to someone, but then it's the steps of buying a card, thinking about what to write (and we're talking a lot of thought cause it's straight up final draft when inks on paper), actually carefully writing it out, getting stamps and physically dropping it off to get it mailed. It's a lot right? A lot that goes into one small something, but that small something speaks volumes to the recipient.  

I honestly can't remember when I fell in love with the art of writing letters. Maybe in middle school when I would write 100 notes a day and pass them in class, but as a parent now I realize that my kid may never grow up appreciating or truly understanding the art of writing letters unless I show him. So I decided that this year is the year to begin ingraining it in his head. He's an early stage writer whose got his alphabets down and spells simple words, but it's just enough to get him started. While his version of "letters" may not be more than him drawing hearts and his name, I'm trying to teach Liam that your words don't have to mean much, but that the act itself can speak louder.

So sure, it's way easier to lean on technology these days to tell someone you're thinking about them, but sometimes you need to continue practicing less relevant skills (like cursive writing) to keep that form of art alive!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Good and Bad of 2016

Oh 2016, even though you've been a bit of a bitch to the Hollywood world the last few months, I can't say that it's been my worst year. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that you've been one of my better years and that says a lot with some of the stuff you've put us through. Between job layoffs, the loss of not one, but both of our dogs, and multiple illnesses this year I can say that we had as many downs, as we did ups. While I can sit and dwell on the things I wish would have gone better this year, focusing on the positive is the whole point of NYE, n'est pas? So...2016 as I bid you adieu, I'd like to thank you for some of the great things you brought us...

Travel, travel, travel: Not counting work trips we were really lucky to trek to different places across the US that Liam had never been before and to parts of Europe that we had never explored. We made 8 trips in 2016 (London, Rome, Tuscany, NYC x3, Colorado and San Francisco) and every place except for NY were new places for us to mark on Liam's map.

On each of these trips we were so lucky to experience parts of it with friends or family which leads me to one of my favorite things that happened to us this year....

Reunited with friends and loved ones: This year we were really lucky to see many friends or family that we don't get to see often due to distance. With our travels, we were able to enjoy meals, play dates and even a few days in the hills of Tuscany with some of our favorite people. A few of my favorites were traveling with one of our favorite couples who happen to love international travel as much as we do, introducing Liam to a few of his second cousins, and of course a special surprise trip that one of Matt's best friends from Hawaii made for his birthday. This year has definitely been one for reunions and I hope we can keep up that momentum in 2017.

We bought a house (ok fine a townhouse): On a whim when Matt realized that the market was working in our favor we listed our 2 bed/2 bath condo in one of the most desired neighborhoods in the city. I was emotional about it all because I loved living on Southport, but trying to live in that neighborhood with our price range and what we were looking for would have required a lot out of us. Truthfully, I'd rather live in a box with an opportunity to travel more than have a big home. Big home = more cleaning. No thanks. However, we did need an upgrade so we bought a 4 story townhouse that gave us everything we never knew we needed. Like a 2-car attached garage (which in Chicago attached garages even with a big house is rare), a play/bonus room, a 3rd room that we converted into a mudroom and most importantly, a community. We bought a home that was ideal for us, but our community made it the perfect place.

New friendships: Speaking of community, we made some great new friends this year. Yes a few in our neighborhood, but a others through work, networking and of course Liam. Kids are a perfect matchmaker for friends and as Liam builds relationships with others in his class we get to meet some great people along the way. 

As I finish up this post it hit me that 2016 has been a year of contentment. A year of not dwelling on the bad that hit us this year, but instead seeing it as an opportunity. And a year of not wishing what could have been, but more a year of accepting what it is. It's been a great year of learning and while I can't predict what will happen in 2017, I hope that it's just as positive as this year has been.

Cheers to have happy, healthy and beautiful New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

NY, I Love You

Growing up on the West Coast in a suburb outside of Seattle, I was a well traveled kid. With immigrant parents I had checked off places like Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines before I hit a double digit age, but domestic travel? That was a whole other ball game. The first time I traveled anywhere past the Pacific Standard Time Zone was the first time I went to NYC my Senior year of high school and I remember it like it was yesterday when my friend Leigh told me, "Tabitha, you're going to love it! It's soooo you." And she was right. It was so me and even though I've never lived in the city, it feels like home.

It wasn't until 2006 that I returned to NYC after my first trip in 1998, all thanks to my job that had a bi-coastal team based in LA and NY. Since that first trip it started a re-occuring visit and sparked my love for the city. My first solo trip to NYC plays a significant role on how I view the city. I was there for a whole week, only really knowing my co-workers who lived there and I made it my goal to experience the city the way a local would. I remember walking the streets by myself for the first time, jaywalking like a pro and taking the subway downtown to stroll around SOHO. While I loved my time alone, loneliness gave me an opportunity to re-connect with people in the city that I hadn't seen in years like my old boss when I was a young intern at Ticketmaster or a childhood friend from the Philippines who happened to work in the hotel I was staying. By the end of that week I lacked sleep, had aching feet and felt more independent. After that trip, going to NYC has felt like second nature and the more I visited, the more it reminds me of why I love it.

New York, to me, is a place of discovery and a place for the un-expected to happen. At any given moment you can be walking down a street and discover something that can change your views on life. At the same time, you can be wandering the city and bump into a friendly and familiar face that allows you to re-connect with someone you once knew well. Every trip I take I have no expectations and no set plans, but leave always feeling so fulfilled and refreshed because I experienced something I didn't plan for.

In the last 10 years I've been extremely fortunate to take at least 2 - 3 trips to NYC every year. Thankfully my work always brought me back to the city and while my current job doesn't give me that luxury, my in-laws have since moved to NYC making our trips more of a family experience. Since birth, Liam has been lucky to come to NYC at least 1 - 2 times a year and this past trip made me realize how much he loves NYC as much as I do. He walks down the street saying hi to the doormen and knows that the pedestrian sign doesn't dictate whether we can walk or not. He knows that a subway is the only means of getting anywhere with limited traffic and he especially loves that most meals are eaten out due to small kitchens. Every time we are in NYC he dreads leaving, largely because his grandparents live there, but proof that he's in love with the city as much as I am was when he asked me, "Mom, do you think we look like we live here?" It mattered to him that people saw him as a local and we chatted a bit about how he wants to live in NYC when he gets a family of his own. Even thought he's 4 it means something to him to feel comfortable in the city and it means so much to me that at a young age he appreciates (and loves) something that took me 17 years to discover.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Meaning of Christmas...Cards

We had a quick chat about Christmas cards the other day at work and it was interesting to see that there were mixed opinions. A few that said, it wasn't their thing and others who said they liked them. I for one am in the camp of loving them. Ok fine I was probably the most vocal about loving Christmas cards, but there's a reason why. In the Green household (ie: my small family of 3), Christmas cards are kind of a big deal. Sadly I can't take any credit for it because Matt is the brain child behind it all and since we seem to always out do ourselves every year based on people's reactions, I'll continue to let him have this one. While we're not a family to follow traditions, our Christmas cards are one that we're known for and while they can be somewhat offensive to some, our cards have one purpose: Bringing joy to our friends!

It all started back in 2010 when my husband, the man with the driest sense of humor, decided that we were going to super impose ourselves onto another family's Christmas card to bring the gift of laughter to our loved ones. What started off as an experiment, and meant to be only a one time thing, has evolved into this conversational piece during the holiday season that has people asking us to include them on our mailing list and saying things like, "I can't wait to see your holiday card this year!" 

2010 Christmas Card

One year we placed our faces over the nativity scene, myself as Mary and Matt as Joseph. And when Liam was born we upped our game. Taking on those awful 80s photos headfirst and posing for family portraits in ugly Christmas sweaters a la Awkward Family Photos. As you can imagine, the woman at the Target portrait shop was having fun with our request.

2013 Christmas Card

Poor Liam was born into this tradition and until he's 18, or finally realizes what kind of embarrassment we are as parents, he's kind of stuck with it. Since the first card, we've evolved our approach, tackling on current events. Taking the most buzz worthy moments of the year and placing ourselves in those memorable events. With 2016 being focused on politics you can imagine that we had to follow the biggest news of all and Liam had no issues nailing this facial expression on the first try.

2016 Christmas Card | Card design via Minted

So you see, while Christmas cards are a great way to wish your friends and families a happy holiday, we see it as something a little more. While we would love to provide gifts to many of our friends, the closest we can get to it is the gift of laughter. It's a gift of small monetary value, but our offering behind it is whole hearted.

Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Company Women Should Keep

Growing up friends were my family. Everyone at some point in their life says that and for me it rings true. There have been times in my life where my friends were the ones who were there for me when I didn't have family close by. In some ways I give my friends a lot of credit for who I am today. I know it's a bold statement, but think about it this way. Your friends introduce you to many things you haven't been exposed to and if you end up loving that thing to the point it becomes a hobby, career or interest, wouldn't you give your friend credit for it? See, friends are pretty significant.

Now that I'm in my mid-thirties and have gone through a lot of adulting, I'm realizing that having different buckets of friends provide a lot of value. Sure there are a lot of people who combine their groups of friends like a mixed bag of bulk candy, but sometimes having your friends separated brings a whole lot of perspective into your life. So, as someone who values my groups of friends, here are a few I think everyone woman should have in her life!

Common interest friends: Blogging has given me an opportunity to meet so many wonderful friends and ones who have stuck by me even throughout my hiatus. Not only that but beyond blogging we have so many other things in common like our kids ages (hence the picture of Liam and Leyla's son Luke) love for food or fashion, that these friendships have evolved. Having friends who share the same passion for a hobby or interests are even more important when your closest circle of friends don't share the same love for those things. 

Couple friends: "Couple friends" are the best to keep around to keep your relationship in tact. While I love date nights, sometimes having couple date nights are better because there is only so much talk you can do with your spouse that you haven't already covered throughout the week. Especially if you've been together for a long time, sometimes you need to go on double dates to shake things up a bit. Couple friends are also those that will take every life stage around the same time you do like marriage, kids, buying a house, etc. Sometimes it's just nice to have friends that are at your pace.

Friends for yourself: Every woman needs friends that aren't tied to her significant other. It's true. While you obviously want your friends to get along with your partner, you need a friend that is just your friend. These friends are the ones that will give you perspective and someone you can confide in without feeling guilty that they may have loyalty to your partner. And if it's a single girlfriend, even better. They'll give you the 411 on the dating front and may even let you help them find their next Bumble date.

Childhood friends: It may be months or years since you've last seen each other, but you know that with one call you'll pick up right where you've left off. These are the people that you've rebelled with, hit puberty with, drank your first beer or smoked your first joint with - let's just say a whole bunch of epic shit you can never forget. While you may have less things in common now that you're older, there's no one else who can ground you more than the people who helped influence who you are today.

Work friends: These are the people that see you the most throughout the week. Aside from your legit family, these are people who will see the the many sides of who you are. You'll buttheads with them, get drunk with them, laugh your ass off at any given time, and on un-expected emotional days they may even see you cry. Just like real family, sometimes you don't get to choose who they are, but they're the best people to keep you going throughout the day.

Neighbors: When my neighbor texted me the other day to say I had a package in the mailbox, the first thing I thought to myself was, "Man, I love having neighbor friends." These people will have your back when you're not looking. No really. When Liam is playing too close to the street and I'm occupied doing something else, our neighbor will tell him what's up. Having people live so close to you are the best people to make your house feel like a real home.

Last but not least, Mom friends: Ladies, being a mom is tough and while I love my husband, sometimes the only other people that get my breed of crazy is other moms. My mom friends help me feel less guilty about what I'm not doing as a mom and reassure me that I'm doing ok. Even on those days where I feel like I've failed, these ladies lift me up, buy me a glass of wine and tell me my kid will be alright. It's a different kind of sisterhood I didn't expect to find when Liam started daycare or school, but one that I've welcomed with open arms. Every mom needs mom friends to empower you and tell you that you're a great mom, especially on those days when you don't feel like it.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


I've said this before and I'll say it again, I love being in my thirties. Maybe it's because I'm a recovering fat kid or maybe it's because I feel like I haven't reached my peak yet. Whatever it is I'm really loving this age. However, what comes with this age is a lot more life challenges. This whole adulting thing can be exhausting and un-expected. So while I am loving 35, I'm feeling super guilty for being happy at this age when some around me are not.

It's hard to articulate the shit that goes down when you get older. No one ever wants to admit  to things like divorces, miscarriages, depression and other life issues. They're not fun, they are really scary, but reality is that it happens. Sadly, what comes with growing older is being surrounded by stories like these and not knowing what causes them or how they can be avoided. When I hear these type of stories the first thing I ask myself is, "Was there a sign?".  While I'm not experiencing this first hand, mentally I'm trying to cope with this not for myself, but as sympathy for my friends.

2016 for us has been no walk in the park. Unfortunately we were impacted by work layoffs, not once, but twice this year which always bring stress into a family dynamic. We were lucky to bounce right back from it without feeling too phased, but this issue seems so small compared to others that can cause more damage. I'm still super content and feel good about the positive things happening in my life, but in my gut I'm feeling effects from the things friends and family are going through right now.

It's hard to tell someone, "I know how you feel" because truthfully I have no clue and I can't be that person that tries to compare my issues with something much greater. But, what I can do is listen. I'm not the best at advice and end up rambling nonsense just so it feels like it offers value. But listening I'm good at and listening I'll do.

So my kind reminder to everyone. If a loved one is going through personal challenges, listen. Have empathy and don't feel like you have to know all the answers. Sometimes listening is more valuable than anything else. If you're like me and feel guilty for things going great right now, appreciate those things. Embrace them. I'd like to think that feeling guilty is somewhat of a good thing because it's awareness that what you have is good and knowledge that things can change at any moment.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Imperfect Life

Can I just say that I'm #blessed?! I kid. I kid. I don't think I've ever used that hashtag and I'm pretty sure the delivery of it would come across as awesome as when I greet women with "Hay gurl!". Terrible. It just comes off terrible.

In all honestly as of lately I've been content. Happy sounds like I'm bragging and saying it's alright doesn't do it justice. When I've caught up with friends lately all I can say is, "everything is good" and that sounds so down played when realistically I've never felt as content with my life as I am right now. The funny thing is that this year has been far from perfect. It's had some highs and many lows, but through it all I've still been very satisfied with my life to date. Given the year that many of others have had, I know I'm lucky. 

I've taken a mass hiatus from this blog to the point where I 100% said I'm giving it up completely, but I recently realized that I was giving it up for the wrong reasons. I was "quuitting" because I didn't like the pressure of blogging for others when first and foremost it should be for myself. It's no secret that I work in marketing that so happens to be in the influencer space, so I do get wrapped up in quite the bit of hub bub around "are blogs dying?". Being part of this world made me realize that I was falling into the pressure of keeping up with it all and I was quickly losing the interest of doing it. But, what I miss most about it is having a personal outlet. A place where I can put my thoughts, issues, personal problems (you name it) on "paper" to get it off my chest. Kind of like Doogie Howser's running personal journal. I forgot that what fueled my ongoing storytelling was the stories I heard back from others that would comfort me by saying, "I hear ya sista!" Call it a friendship, a bond, a community. Like a long distance friend, I'm feeling a little homesick from it all. So here I am. Back to share my stories.

Like any long term relationships I'd love to set my intentions, just so there are expectations you know?  This blog has gone through MANY evolutions in the decade of its existence and once again it will change a bit (not much, but just a bit). My focus? Life's imperfections. Stories that don't always end up in happy endings and ones that may be challenging to tell, but they're real. My hope is that by me sharing some of my life's not so glamorous and everyday moments that you (at least one of you) feels a moment of relief that someone can sympathize with whatever shit you're dealing with. I'm guilty of letting social media blind me into thinking that everyone's life is hunky dory, and I'm also guilty of maybe portraying that life, but I'm nowhere near it. I'm an everyday person, with everyday issues who leads a imperfect and content life.

So as I continue to share my stories I hope you'll continue to follow along because you (yea you!!!) and this blog, have given me so much in my life and to be frank, I've missed it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Life's Little Shortcuts

Someone should have told me that a part of being a mom is constantly finding shortcuts to everything.

Want to catch up girlfriends without sacrificing time with your husband and/or child, but also need to squeeze in your workout? Shortcut: Long 2+ mile walks with your friend a on Saturday morning while you push your stroller.

Want to try the latest restaurant but also need to find time to socialize and have adult conversations? Shortcut: Attend networking events at a bar/restaurant on your "must try" list.

Being a mother means that with your busy life you get by with help...lots and lots of it. I mean why do you think us moms love wine so much?  I'm coming to terms that taking the easy way out isn't always so bad.

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