Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sister Sister

If you’ve read our blog before, you’ll know that I’m apt to fret about the future of our youth. Well, the youth that live in my house, anyway.

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, we didn’t find out who was in there because we wanted a surprise delivery. Our daughter was born and we were thrilled. When I got pregnant again, I wanted to find out the baby’s gender. (My husband didn’t – but since I was carrying the darn baby, I figured I had veto power.) Of course I didn’t care who was in there, but I wanted to prepare myself if I was to have another girl.

Having grown up with one brother myself, my childhood home was fairly harmonious. We were – and still are – very different, so there was little competition between us growing up. I feared having a second girl because of my perceptions about sisters. I was terrified of them. The brother-sister relationship seemed so easy. There were so many ways to encourage different interests. And the brother-brother relationship? Well I just figured they’d whack each other to resolve their differences. But the sister-sister relationship seemed to be the most fraught of all. Sisters can be best friends and worst enemies all in the same relationship. There’s so much angst. And girls can be SO MEAN to each other!

Of course I was destined to have a second daughter. And then a third.

But then a really good thing happened to us this weekend. We reconnected with some cousins who we don’t see often and don’t know very well. They are raising sisters. They have an 11-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old daughter. And these kids blew me away. They were SO NICE! They were kind and authentic and well-mannered and charming. And they were delighted to play with my children! (My three girls swimming away while my husband and I sat poolside? My idea of paradise!) Sure those adolescent girls sleep ‘til noon – but as far as I can tell, that’s a break from the 6:30 a.m. wake-up call we have going on around here. These girls gave me hope that it’s possible to raise great kids and happy sisters.

Plus, I think I may have scored myself two future babysitters.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mompreneur ROI

As we work through our writing project about mom entrepreneurship I found myself thinking about ROI – or return on investment – the other day. There’s an ugly looking formula to figure out your ROI – I’ll include it here just to amuse ourselves:

Despite the fact that I made it through business school I’m not what you would call a quant jock – so anytime a formula is involved I start to feel a little unwell. But in our business we do measure and consider whether the things we spend money on generate returns.

We’re not sure that all small business people think about what their returns are. At a recent show we were next to a woman who did the most beautiful quilts and who lost money at a staggering rate throughout the show. We don’t blame her for that – you’ll never know how something will work out unless you try, right? But she’ll be back, and that’s the problem. She comes back every year. And she’s not the only one. So if we're talking about issues in starting a business we want to raise the issue of considering returns.

The thing is though that we’re talking about mompreneurs here – not your average Joe or Jo-Anne Entrepreneur. Many of us start our businesses looking not only for money, but for family time and balance as well. The returns may be different for us.

Here are some of the profits and (losses) in my daily mompreneur experience.

Yesterday I picked up my kids from the camp bus and walked them home. I sat with them while they had a popsicle and heard about their day.

(Later I shushed my son and visibly hurt his feelings when he tried to tell me something while I was on the phone for a work call.)

I’m taking a few days off next week to go camping with my husband and kids. And I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission.

(I’ll be a little stressed out about how far behind I am when I get back. I’ll disappear and leave the kids to their dad so I can catch up when we return.)

I have breakfast with my kids every day.

(My laptop is on the kitchen table sometimes.)

I get to decide when I work and where, and I love that freedom.

(I sometimes miss the companionship of a busy office. And I wouldn’t mind making more money either!)

I haven’t ‘missed’ anything as my kids have been small. I’ve felt every new tooth come in, seen them roll, crawl, walk and speak for the first time. I’ve soothed hurt feelings and kissed owies better.

(I’m not always as present with my kids as I’d like to be.)

So what’s the ROI on my mompreneur experience? Well, I’ve invested the last 7 years of my life (and counting), I’ve forgone both a lucrative career in the corporate world as well as being a full-time mum. But even though there’s a ‘loss’ for every ‘profit’ I’m still definitely ahead. I choose the positives even knowing that there are negatives and I know that the gains are worth more to me than the losses.

Maybe it’s time we wrote a new formula.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Things I'm too old to do

My fortieth birthday is around the corner. Well, not around the next corner. But it’s around the one after that. In recent months Danielle and I have been talking a lot about things that we’re too old to do. It started late last year when we had an important business meeting. We’ve been off the corporate path for a while now, and since we’ve popped out five babies between us in the past six years, our business wardrobes are non-existent. Jeans and t-shirts are pretty strict uniforms around here, and neither one of us has a decent suit in the closet. When we asked someone’s advice, she suggested that the company we were meeting was pretty formal. So what’s a girl to do?

Rather than getting all wound up about what to wear, we put on our (best) jeans and headed to the meeting. We decided that we were too old to run around to buy an outfit just for this occasion. After all, we were representing ourselves – and jeans are where we’re at right now. (The meeting went very well, by the way.)

Since we first started talking about this, I’ve added other things to my list. According to me, I am now too old to:

- Wear a crop top. Or a mini-skirt;

- Drink so much that I’m incapacitated the next day and unable to care for my children;

- Fight with my friends;

- Help anyone move. (This applies to anyone over the age of 30 – not just me. When your 20s are behind you, you are too old to “pay” your friends with pizza and beer for helping you move. You should outsource this task to professionals.)

As I age, some things just aren’t the same, but there have been some improvements too. You get to know yourself better. You know what works and doesn’t work in your life. You get better at saying, “No.” But here’s the problem: Now there are a bunch of things that I’m definitely old enough to handle, but just don’t want to. Like the rodent who briefly took up residence under my kitchen sink. (Disgusting. Disastrous. Needed the husband to deal with it.) Or the rain in my bedroom as a result of a recent thunderstorm. (Still begging the roofer to come by and patch the hole.) Or the baby puke on my sweater that now needs to be dry-cleaned. (Well, that’s just part and parcel of the many thankless tasks of motherhood.)

Look out 40 – I’m coming! Here’s hoping for just the right balance of the things I’m too old to do and the things I’m now ready to handle.

Monday, August 10, 2009

And the Winner Is....

Congratulations to Alexandra Macqueen! She is the winner of our summer contest. Alexandra has won an Admiral Road Camp Blanket AND a Mabel's Labels Camp/School Pack!

Here's what Alexandra had to say about Admiral Road and Mabel's Labels:

"Oh, these blankets look fantastic! I am already a huge fan of Mabel’s Labels; I am sure my kids would be ecstatic to get their own blankets - especially as they have relatively unusual names!!"

Thanks to everyone who entered our contest and left us such great comments! We love to hear from you!

Be sure to check our Mabel's Labels for all your labelling needs

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mompreneurs past, present and fictional

We’re thinking about mom entrepreneurs a lot these days as we are knee-deep in a writing project on the subject. Nowadays it seems like the term mompreneur or mom entrepreneur is everywhere – but our generation certainly didn’t invent the concept. My grandmother ran a hotel while my dad and uncles tore the place apart. Amy’s grandmother ran a grocery store in the Ottawa market with four kids underfoot. Mompreneurs have been around forever and exist in all facets of life. Here is a list of some notable mompreneurs of the big and small screen.

JC Wiatt (Diane Keaton) – Baby Boom: Didn’t you love this movie? JC gives up her fancy job and huge shoulder pads for a money-pit of a house in Vermont and full-time mommyhood when she ‘inherits’ a baby girl. But she takes life’s lemons (apples) and makes lemonade (applesauce). Not only does she get the hunky town vet, but she also gets revenge on her former corporate colleagues. A mompreneur must see!

Elyse Keaton (Meredith Baxter Birney) – Family Ties: Oh Elyse – the mother we all wanted. She could draw up plans for a new house while strumming Dylan tunes on the guitar and imparting life lessons to her kids. And she did it all with never a hair out of place – a true mompreneur indeed!

Angela Bower (Judith Light) – Who’s the Boss: She gets the career and the hunky housekeeper. What else is there to say? (And don’t you dare judge me for calling Tony Danza a hunk, you were totally crushing on him in the 90’s too!)

Kate McCardle (Susan Saint James) & Allie Lowell (Jane Curtain) – Kate & Allie: These quick-witted mompreneurs not only worked together, but they also lived together and raised their children Emma, Chip & Jennie. It certainly couldn’t have been easy to spend all that time together, but more puzzling is how they afforded a brownstone in Greenwich Village on a start-up catering company’s earnings. Hmmm… perhaps they had the same real estate agent as the did kids on "Friends"….but I digress.

Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) – Gilmore Girls: Lorelai Gilmore, beautiful mom to beautiful Rory. She quips, she caffeinates, she runs the Dragonfly – and raises a great kid, with time for romance too. It must be all that coffee.

Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) – Weeds: Selling dope may not be for every mom- but it pays the bills!

These are just a few famous mompreneurs. Send us your favourites!

Coming soon – mompreneurs in fiction!