Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Last Week.....This Week

So there was last week...

I had a 2-nighter in Austin last week. For me, it was a great trip. It was a quarterly meeting with my team, giving me an opportunity to bond with them and tap them as resources. We did some great team-building activities, while accomplishing some major tasks.

Meanwhile at the homestead, things were not going so smoothly. Day 1, I got a call from Daddy telling me he was picking up Boy from the babysitter's to take him to the doctor. He had been coughing all weekend, but it was just getting worse. He'd also been having a little tummy trouble. Daddy ended up having to take the rest of the day off for what turned out to be a small tummy virus and allergies. Poor kiddo and Daddy.

Then on Day 2, while I was at a movie with my team (Pirates of the Carribean 3D Imax!!), I got a text that there were tornadoes and hail looming near the homestead. By the time I called home, Daddy was in no mood to hear anything from me.  Particularly anything fun related!  The storms were stressing out the family (Daddy's job increases in stress level when hail strikes). Boy had an accident all over the carpet upstairs. And a few other odds and ends had tensions running high. My team was waiting on me to eat dinner, but I needed to attempt to smooth things over with Daddy and talk him off the ledge.

I was really overcome with guilt. Poor Daddy was really dealt a crappy hand.  I felt awful that I had been enjoying a movie and dinner with adults.  I was also fighting through being the one in the group who kept leaving to take calls. There are 5 of us on my team. One other girl has small children (4 under the age of 7...including twins, .though she rarely travels), one with teenagers, one with grandchildren, and one who is older with no children. Incidentally, the older one with no children would start a conversation with someone else any time I talked about my kids or my education. Kind of uncomfortable. This company is definitely a champion of family time, but it was still awkward for me. On top of it, I had knowledge that I was going to need to travel an additional few days in June making at least 2 overnights for 4 weeks in a row. I needed to find the right time to break it to Daddy. And he was in no mood to hear it. Truth is, I have training classes and certifications I need to get under my belt, and not all of my resources for this training are in my metro area. Things will even out in the next month, but right now it's a bit intense.

Oh, and I had my first paper of the term due on normative ethics theories later in the week.  It was a doozy, and I was really feeling uptight about it.

The good news is that our home remained in tact during the storms. I made it home in time to spend a few minutes with the kids before bed. Daddy and I had a long discussion when I got home about expectations and ways to manage stress. He expressed his continued support.  I booked him a trip to Las Vegas.  Win-win.

That brings me to this week...

I embarked on another 2-nighter today. Before I left, I did a few special extra things beyond the usual to take some stress off of Daddy. It's the last week of school, and we have to send things in every day this week (not to mention teacher gifts, etc.). I pre-bagged and labeled everything, so all he has to do is toss it in Girl's backpack every morning. I pre-cooked stuff for tomorrow night's dinner. I made sure everything was clean and put away. And then I made sure to go buy some stuffed grape leaves for Daddy, as he enjoys snacking on them as a special treat after the kids go to bed.

For the kids.... I took a picture of myself puckering up with the caption "Give me a kiss! I love you!" I printed it on a 4X6 and put a copy on each of their pillows. I also printed this map, put a yellow pin in our home town, and a red pin in the town I'm currently in. We can then change the pin each time I travel so the kids can see where I am, geographically. It's hanging in Girl's room.

I got into my hotel room tonight and immediately called the family to make it for story time. I hadn't had dinner, so I was starving, but it was cool to still be able to help Girl with her words from over the phone.  Hopefully, this trip will go better than last time for Daddy.

Action Item: As usual, I really need some help getting this off of the ground: Find mamas who travel for work and are interested in sharing tips for staying virtually hands-on with their children. Get them to follow this blog. I know we can build a community for support. Additionally, let's get some comments on the blog about inexpensive and creative souvenir ideas for kids....keeping in mind this is business travel and resources are limited!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


It's travel time again. I've been getting things ready in the same fashion as last trip. However, this time we add a new element. You see, about a month ago, I found a great deal on a Wii. I'm not exactly pro-video games. I have intentionally avoided such a purchase. But I'm a sucker for a good deal, and Girl just loves playing at other people's houses.

We don't just randomly bestow gifts of such magnitude around here, especially since we've been dealing with some poor attitudes and decisions. Thus, Daddy and I have been contemplating how to let the kids earn it. Mind you, they have no idea this thing currently sits in our house.

We devised an earning system which will be paid out with Monopoly money. For the list of particular decisions, a $1 will be paid. If there is a particularly good day, a $5 can be earned. As a bonus incentive to make Daddy's life easier, double earnings are possible when Mom is out of town.

Here is the sign posted near the menu board:

We'll use Monopoly money as payment:

I have trips scheduled for the next 3 consecutive work weeks. With this new job, there are a lot of trainings and meetings. Daddy is not thrilled, but I think we'll make it. I got my company laptop on Friday, and it doesn't have the bells and whistles my personal laptop has. It doesn't have a webcam or microphone, so I had to go purchase one in order to Skype with the family.  I will miss my personal laptop when I'm traveling, but the company one will have to do.

For those who don't know me, I'm also a graduate student. This week is going to be a tough one, because I have a paper due next Sunday. I'll be spending a lot of time in my hotel room reading articles to prepare. I'll check in after the trip!

Action Item for this post is the same as last two posts.  I really need some help getting this off of the ground: Find mamas who travel for work and are interested in sharing tips for staying virtually hands-on with their children. Get them to follow this blog.  I know we can build a community for support.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

First Trip

My first trip commenced on my first day of work.  I hopped on a plane to Houston for a couple of days.  Here's what went down....

1.  Getting my family ready
  • Meal Planning: We plan our meals every week and write them on a dry erase board.  This week, I consulted with my husband on which meals would be the easiest for him to prepare with Girl and Boy under his feet.  In an effort to save money and ensure we don't frivolously eat out, we follow our weekly meal plans closely.  
This is our menu board.  I also keep a running "meatventory" so I know what's in the freezer while planning.

  • Grocery Shopping: We only buy the ingredients we need for the week.  This helps for a few reasons.  1. We aren't loading up on junk that we don't need (this especially helps us keep from night time snacking!).  2. We have a specialized diet due to a child with food sensitivities and our conscious consumption values, so only buying what we need allows us to purchase higher quality products that might cost a little more.  3. Since we shop on Sundays, and our trips require multiple stores, we need to be as efficient as possible.  Our kids HATE to shop, especially Girl.
  • Schedule: We have an account with Cozi.  It maintains our family and individual schedules, as well as keeps our grocery lists (I have a tab for each store).  What's awesome about this site is that I can access it from my Smart Phone, and I can text the lists to my husband's not-so-smart phone.  Since it's web-based, we can access our schedules from remote locations.
  • Laundry: Make sure it's all done ahead of time! 
  • Other preparations: Wednesday was the day the house cleaners were scheduled to come.  I made sure to pre-write a check and get the cash for their tips ready for my husband.  I also briefed him on making sure to put out our cleaning products and preparing the linens to be changed.  I picked up the toys in the play room and organized/put away all of the "things" around the house that weren't needed for the next few days.  I also made sure my husband was up to speed with the things I do after he falls asleep on the couch every night: make the dogs go outside, take Girl to the bathroom, make sure Boy is covered and not hanging off of his bed, close the gate in the hall to keep the dogs out of the kids' rooms, turn off all of the lights, set the burglar alarm, set the alarm clock, and lock doors.
  • School prep: It is impossible for my husband to get both kids to the places they need to be and make it to work on time.  Girl can't be to school any earlier than a certain time, and Boy's babysitter is too far to drop him off first.  Thus, I arranged with another parent at school for my husband to drop Girl off at their house before school.
2.  Getting myself ready
  • Packing: This time was tricky...  Since I hadn't even started my first day of work, I played it safe with a more conservative business wardrobe.  This included my boots with heels.  I don't like to venture out of my hotel when I travel.  I usually just get room service, so the only other clothing I brought included: two tank tops, a pair of sweatpants, a pair of cotton shorts, and a pair of flip flops.  I also made sure to have all of my small travel bottles in my clear quart bag.  I made sure everything fit into a rollerboard suitcase that I could carry on.
  • Computer: Without my work laptop yet, I packed my personal laptop.  I wanted to be able to access Skype.  I am also in search of a way to play games live over the internet with Girl.  I need to research that some more.
The Actual Trip
When I got to work, I quickly learned that I was overdressed.  For three days, I looked pretty silly compared to everyone else in jeans and casual shoes!  I knew at the store level, things are very casual, but I wasn't sure about my level.  Now I know!  Sadly, I had no other shoes with me beside my flip flops, which I couldn't do.  I did not have a rental (my boss had the rental with him) to venture out and get shoes.  Luckily, I sat a good portion of the time.

I had an absolute blast at work.  Right after work both nights, I had to go to dinner with my team.  No complaints here about that, but it did push off what time I could call the family.  I think that worked out, as I didn't interrupt dinner and bath time.  Since I was calling around bedtime, I become a part of nightly story time via speaker phone.  We didn't get a chance to Skype this trip since I was getting back to my hotel later than planned both evenings.  But no one seemed to concerned about it.  I also had to use my mommy voice a couple of times during story time, which made me feel as if I was really there!

On night #2, I jinxed myself.  I told Girl I would be home before she went to bed the next evening.  My flight was supposed to land at 5:25.  Well, thanks to typical crazy Dallas weather, I didn't get home until 9:45.  Though it was way past her bedtime, her daddy let Girl stay up to see me.  I was glad.  I snuggled in her bed with her for a while.  Then I tip-toed in to give Boy big smooches.  I emailed my boss that night requesting to leave a bit early on Thursday so that I could spend some time with my kids since I got home so late.  He obliged.  I also got up extra early Thursday morning so that I was ready for work BEFORE I woke the kids up for the day.  This gave me some extra time with them before it was time to head to work.  I got out of work about 2:30, picked them both up and we went home and snuggled up to Return to Neverland until Daddy got home. 

We all survived and made it work, though I'm pretty sure my husband was going to have a nervous breakdown when he learned my flight had been delayed....

Action Item for this post is the same as last post.  I really need some help getting this off of the ground:  Find mamas who travel for work and are interested in sharing tips for staying virtually hands-on with their children.  Get them to follow this blog.  

XOX-- Mama Red

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Journey Begins

After spending 5 years as a stay-at-home mom, I returned to the workplace in October 2009.  I embraced the idea of going back to work, but the last 18 months have been spent in the wrong jobs.  When an opportunity with my dream company presented itself, I jumped all over it.  As I went through my first phone interview, I learned the travel portion was more extensive than I realized.  I was torn between what I really wanted to do career-wise and the guilt of being away from my children. 

My husband and I had many conversations as I advanced to the next round of interviews.  He was 100% in favor of the position.  As I was hesitant, he was insistent.  But I was still plagued with thoughts of how my children would be affected by my absence.  I traveled some with my previous position, but not nearly as much as this one would require.  I was also projecting my guilt through my perception of what others might be thinking.  Most of my friends are stay-at-home moms.  I was really concerned about looking selfish.  I am a confident person, but I am not immune to the effects of judgment.  When I revealed that I wanted the position, my friends rallied.  I am sure many of them would not make the same decision in my position, but they did offer support.

So after a quite a harrowing interview process, I got the job.  And the real work begins....

When preparing for the position, I searched on-line for resources for traveling moms.  I found articles describing how to make things more comfortable for a mom missing her kids.  That's definitely important to me, but more important is having a presence in my home for my children when I'm not physically there.  I'm hoping this blog can bring together ideas for moms in my situation.  My vision is to ultimately serve as a resource for moms who travel for business, and I will need help from other traveling mamas in the form of tips, tales, and suggestions.  I will share my tales from the road and what we do to make things work in my family.  My intention is to be candid and honest about when things don't work. 

Now for the rules...  I have zero tolerance for criticism on this blog.  My decision to take this job was not taken lightly, and I have intentionally not written about my beliefs regarding working moms because I do not want to alienate my fellow moms who make different choices than me.  I believe it is every woman's right to decide what is best for her family, and criticism of anyone (full-time moms or moms working at/out of the home) will not be tolerated here.

So now I give you your Action Item for this post:  Find mamas who travel for work and are interested in sharing tips for staying virtually hands-on with their children.  Get them to follow this blog.  

Next blog....  How the Red family prepares...

XOX-- Mama Red