Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Aspirations

This has been a year of learning and growing for me. I like to think that I have blossomed as a person through the experiences I have had. The year centered around:
  • starting a blog
  • learning to be a mummy (I think this will be an ongoing aspect of my life as long as I live)
  • struggling to get a start-up on it's feet while working with the techie (we have learnt to understand and accept each other a little better, I think)
  • handling more responsibilities as a daughter to my parents and in-laws (and trying to support my grandparents a little better)
  • just listening to my little brother as he goes through some big changes in his life (lots more to come in the new year) 
I began blogging primarily to get back on track with my writing. However, I've been overwhelmed by the amount of strength I'm been able to draw from the small but close-knit circle of friends that it has given me. As a bonus, it's brought me even closer to another mummy-friend of mine, who was little more than an acquaintance in school (Darling, you know who you are).

For the new year, I'm not going to make any resolutions. I'm only going to aspire to be happier and try not to dwell on the past or have any regrets. Hopefully, I'll spread around some of that happiness and joy.

I'm signing off now with a whole load of love and best wishes for my bloggy friends, who have given me so much this year. See you in 2011. Here's *raise imaginary glass of champagne* to more sharing, caring, happiness and fun in the coming year.

P.S.- This is my 49th post. So am starting the New Year with post no.50. Yay!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Am the Way I Am and I Can be Anything

When I had my little girl  I promised myself that I would do my best to ensure that she had oodles of self-confidence. My husband also feels strongly on this, especially after seeing quite a few young girls we know, become obsessed with their being skinny and trying to do stuff to fit in with their crowd.

We identified two areas that seemed to contribute to high self-esteem (in our limited opinion) - being happy with the way you look and the assurance that you are capable of achieving anything you set your mind on.

When it comes to body image, I'm like any other woman and occasionally do analyze my imperfections, however, I never feel insecure in the way I look (even if I'm look as if I'm carrying a baby in my tummy right now). The techie and I have made a conscious effort to never give importance our looks and weight (except in a health context) in front of V.  What we focus on, when we discuss our physical appearance is:

  • The importance of grooming, with respect to hygiene and being presentable
  • Physical fitness and it's relationship with outdoor play
Despite all this, she's still very much a little girl who loves to play dress-up and use my flavoured lip balms! However, she's not obsessed with the actual results just the blingyness (my own word) of it all.

My mom has thought the little munchkin a song that I love and constantly sing to her and myself:

I am the way I am and I'm very happy with that
I may be tall or I may be short, my body maybe thin or fat
It doesn't really matter at all
Because I am the way I am and I'm very happy with that

Try this song, it really does lift your spirits and is so much fun to sing together.

When it comes to ability, I always think of the movie 'The Pursuit of Happyness'. In the 'Dream Scene'   Will Smith gives his son a long list of reasons why he'll never be a good basket-ball player. Then he does a complete turn-about and says "Never let anybody tell you, you can't do something, not even me". I couldn't have put it better. This movie is our all time favourite (the techie and I) and we constantly use the lessons to motivate ourselves and our child. 

Anyway those are my random thoughts for today. What are you very particular about when it comes to nurturing your children?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Few of My Favourite Things

Here is what's brightening-up my winter days:
  • Watching Sully (the techie) and Boo (my baby) enjoying Monsters Inc together. They scream and boo and giggle all through the movie
  • My morning strawberry indulgence shower and my baby smelling of fresh honey and toffee after her morning bath 
  • Brownie pie (at my local coffee shop) with my afternoon americano (isn't it great how all those winter layers let you indulge without worrying about the effect on your hips and tummy)
  • The seasonal glitter and shine every where I turn. "I love my bling darlings"
  • Getting to wear my favourite leather coat on my mini-break last week (I haven't used it for three years!) 
  • Meeting my BFF (and her new-born son) after a 2.5 long years apart 
  • Climbing back onto the blogging bandwagon after a series of longish breaks
  • Catching-up on great books I missed, like the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series. One book down, two to look forward too
  • My baby singing "My Favourite Things" from "The Sound of Music" at the top of her voice, while being totally oblivious to who's listening. I wish I could enjoying being "me" as much as she enjoys being "V"
What's cheering you up this December?

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Green-Eyed Monster

I really, really envy mothers who say:

  •  "I never miss a day of blogging, because I blog in the mornings before my little ones (note the plural) are up. All you need to do is dash off your entry when the coffee is percolating or the toast is toasting (or some other @#$%^ing mutli-taskable activity is going on)"
  • "I lay out clothes and accessories (which the toddler never pulls off) for the whole family before we retire (who speaks like this) every night. It makes life so much easier." (When? Doesn't your toddler hold on to your hand till she puts you to sleep and it's already 2 am when you open your eyes, so you just change beds?)
  • "We love cuddling-up and reading a bedtime story before goodnight hugs and lights out. It's so soothing after my stressful day at work." (You read one story and end-up with a hug? I would rather face an angry customer than announce bedtime. At least the customer doesn't ask "why" after every statement/answer.)
  • "I wore my first date dress, when the toddler was 10 months old. It was my anniversary gift to my husband - a fit, sexy wife." (I wore my 8th month maternity gown and maternity underpants while breast-feeding.) 
  • "My husband and I are always in agreement over how to bring up our kids. We have similar value systems." (You have value systems? We have the good cop, bad cop routine down to an art. All our systems stop with the office.)
  • "'Me time' is so important for a mother. I make it a point to spend one evening a week with the girls. The husband and I also plan a date-night every week to keep our romance alive." (I'm crying in frustration and have no smart comments here.)
I better sign-off now, before steam starts pouring out of this perfect mommy's ears.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Are We Really Good Business Partners?

I've always found that work helps me forget my worries, so I decided to focus on something that I've neglected for a while, my "working with your partner" series.

Last time I posted on this topic we discussed how to judge if going into business with your spouse is a good idea. We focused on a series of questions/potential-conflict areas that would help us judge the suitability of such a decision. I had promised to give my answers to those questions and that's exactly what I'm going to do here.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the list when I decided to embark on this journey with the techie, so my answers may be (a lot) less than perfect. Anyway, I'm taking the plunge now:
  1. Is this what you really want and is it right for you?: The first part of this question is pretty easy. The techie and I have discussed this since the day we got engaged. The desire to go into business together was the one thing we had  in common (probably the only one, till today). With respect to the second part of the question, it seems right most of the time because both of us are excited to face new challenges everyday and we can play devil's advocate without getting personal (well most of the time). 
  2. Why are you starting a business?: We both seem to have the appetite to take on risks and we have a shared dream to help the less fortunate through our social business. 
  3. Who's vision is it?: I'm not ashamed to admit that the vision here is the techie's. I'm more of the getting things done kind of person. However, the vision grew from our desire to start a social business and all the research we put in to determine where there was a market gap.
  4. Are your expectations of work life-balance the same?: We are aware that this is going to be a big part of our lives for the next decade, at a minimum, and have tried to plan our personal life accordingly. In terms of priorities we see eye to eye about 80% of the time, which I think is healthy and partly because we are sharing our life on all fronts.
  5. Map out areas of management and responsibility: Based on our core strengths, experience and qualifications, we have divided up the work-load as - the techie covers marketing, projects (expansion) and IT, while I focus on operations and finance.
  6. Can your relationship handle this arrangement?: This is undoubtedly the toughest question of the lot (we seems to have started with the easiest). Initially, I didn't give this much though since we seemed to be compatible on the big stuff, however, it's not all plain sailing. There are days when I really appreciate the fact that we can complement each other both at home and at work, while on other days divorce seems inevitable (luckily these are few and far apart). 
So those were my two cents on what it takes to work with your spouse. Though I think it's useful to ponder all the above points, you also need to trust your instincts. Do you think we are really good business partners or just good partners? Let me know if there's anything I missed out or  if you need help formulating your answers.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Medical Break

We've had a horrible week:
  • The munchkin has been prodded, poked and scanned to diagnose her three week long fever
  • My maternal grandfather is in the ICU waiting for his angiogram this morning
  • My paternal grandmother is getting her MRI done for a suspected dislocated shoulder, right at this moment
So, please don't go away if I'm missing for a while. I'll be popping-up in all your comment sections for sure in the interim.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekend Zen

I realized one thing this week. It doesn't matter how many brilliant posts you write in your head, you need to put it out in the blogsphere for it to have any sort of real value. So before the next weekend starts, here's a post I've been meaning to write for the past seven days. This is not one of those brilliant post (you need to hang out here regularly to get to read those), however, it's a special one.

Last week I decided that I need to be more like the techie. When he's with the little one, he completely enjoys her. I understand that I can never be the same, since a mummy's balance of fun versus responsibility is different from a daddy's (at least in my limited experience). However, I have also understood that sometimes you just need to have fun and throw caution to the winds, because this time with my daughter will not come back. So, I attacked the weekend with this learning in ,mind (yes, I can plan a fun day too). Surprisingly, just the intention to have fun lead to a spontaneous zen-inducing day.

On the weekends our whole family gets together to relax. So, we have about 7 kids ranging from 1.10 years to 15 years throw together. The first half of the day was pretty much par for course. Grocery shopping, family lunch and a movie in the home theater while the younger ones napped. Post naps we stepped into the driveway to perfect weather conditions, bright sunshine and a cooling breeze. That's when I hit on my first idea, hopscotch. This may seem a bit silly to some of you, but today's kids either play organized sport or spend time on the phone, in-front off the computer/television. 

When I asked for some driveway chalk they were all intrigued. By the time I had the first box drawn out, I had 10 people helping me. We ended-up with 2 different layouts and marked them as level 1 and level 2. This has to be the most fun game of hopscotch I have played in years. The little ones just had fun jumping, while the older ones loved the challenge and the adults actually got some decent workouts.  The perfect way to enjoy the perfect day.

We didn't end with hopscotch. The enthusiastic competing gave all of us a big appetite and I decided to make my favourite spaghetti arrabiata (I know it's nothing special, but we love it). My 12 year old niece loves cooking and wanted to help me out. My toddler is my current kitchen helper. So the three of us set off to blanch the tomatoes. By the time the tomatoes where ready for peeling I had 5 kids in the kitchen (2 of the boys joined in and the littlest boy decided to keep pulling stuff of the workspace). They all peeled and chopped the tomatoes, smashed the garlic, and halved the spaghetti sticks. (Breaking the sticks was their favourite activity, thought the flying pieces of dry spaghetti  almost caused a few injuries. I finally had them close their eyes every time they snapped the sticks.) Everyone had a turn at stirring the sauce and tearing up the herbs. The troupe even enjoyed the clean-up part. All this fun also resulted in food that everyone loved (there were about 15-20 of us that evening).

The best part of this experience - I spent a fun, stress-free day with my baby.

This is what I've planned for tomorrow's zen experience - jump rope competitions followed by tofu and vegetable stir-fry with buck wheat noodles. (The little one's running a fever today, so don't know if this will actually materialize.) 

What do you do for family fun? I love new ideas and am always willing to use my husband and child as guinea pigs (just kidding).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eat Pray Love

I've read the book and, finally, watched the movie*. I totally enjoyed both. If you thought I'm going to add to the plethora of reviews out there and bore you to death, I have a pleasant surprise for you. I'm not.  This is more of an observation post. We can call it "Eat Pray Love and the Crazy Mommy":
  • I read the book in three installments, with a week break between each city. A book that size would normally be devoured by me in less than 48 hours. (I started speed reading way before the concept became common. Since I was reading Enid Blytons from the age of three.) I initially started reading it like a normal book, however when I got to the end of the Italy chapter I started reading up on the stuff referenced in the book. Let me tell you I had hours and hours of online fun. That's when I decided to do the same with the other cities. The end effect, I felt the movie was way to short, with not enough focus on the writer's descriptions of the cities. This didn't stop me from enjoying the movie throughly, I would have just liked more of it. 
  • I dragged V along for the movie (she's loves going to the cinema and actually watches most of the movie). Halfway through the techie and I wished we hadn't brought her. In the scene where Julie Roberts and her beau are romancing, she insisted on explaining to the whole theater that "mummy and daddy are doing cozy, cozy"! I swear we only kiss and hug in front of her nothing more. V also learnt her new favourite word - "sexy". She kept saying "mummy, the daddy in the movie said sexy" and giggling throughout the break. Lucky, everyone around us thought she was cute and entertaining. My ears were red by the end of the show.
  • The major outcome of the book and movie has been that I'm drooling over totally unaffordable houses in exotic locations. In fact, I now have 5 dream houses instead of one! I've also gone back to planning my post-retirement world-trip. (I hope to retire by 40, at the latest).
What effect did the book/movie have on you? Did everyone enjoy and analyze it as much as me, or am I just a one off case?

*I actually started this post on the 28th of October (we are not that behind with movies here) and didn't want to change it for authenticity sake. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bloggy Inspiration

Life has been so mad, that I actually forgot I have a blog. How lame is that!

Towards the end of October, I kept getting these amazing ideas for posts, however I didn't have the time to actually write them down. Now when I've finally logged in, I don't know what to write about! If this isn't a perfect example of irony, what is?

I think I read somewhere that most bloggers tire of their blogs within the first six months. Now, I definitely haven't gotten bored, just very busy and I absolutely don't want to give-up on my blog or lose the few readers I have. So I've decided to go and spend sometime reading the blogs that keep me going through the week and look for inspiration. Why don't you all come along and enjoy yourselves. I promise you some great reads:
  • More Than Just A Mother* - This is the first mommy blog I ever read and till date it's my favourite. I dare you not to laugh out aloud. Infact, I would go so far as to say, that this mother got me to start blogging. If I spent as much time writing as I do reading her blog and thinking up interesting comments, I probably would have a book contract by now. She's pretty famous now, however, she still replies to most comments!
  • Lost in translation - This is one tongue-in-cheek mommy blogger who loves poop. Her babies are bi-lingual and pretty entertaining. I found her blog after I started my own. I really appreciate the fact that she always takes time to visit and comment on her reader's blogs. This despite just having had her third baby!
  • A Girl In Asia - This adventurer is truly awesome. She not only gives us great food insights of the cities she's lived in, she also connects her readers to other amazing travel and food bloggers. My personal favourite read, on this blog, is her aptly named 'Cafe Crush' series.
  • Fashion Butter - When  I'm feeling down and dowdy, I turn to this greek girl for a bit of glamour. Her wedding pictures are dreamy. She can convert a regular cardigan into a glamorous dress! Trust me I need a lot of help in the glamour department, so if I can use her tips, so can you
  • COCOCOZY - If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I've been planning my dream house for ages. Well, this is where I go for a lot of my inspiration. I don't know how she gets around like she does, but you really do get a lot of tempting eye candy here. Though occasionally I am tempted in the direction of bank-robbery or grand fraud (just kidding, please don't hand me over to the authorities yet).
  • It's a small world after all** - This is my dream life. I've been planning something like this since I was 18 and now she's gone and done it. Yeah, I'm referring to becoming a world resident (remember my one month in one country plan?). A couple and their three children take 9 months off real life to traverse the globe. How much better can it get?
  • The Yummy Mummy** - Is about having a really good time with your kids in the kitchen (and not walking around in 6-inch heels). I found this lovely read when I was looking for ideas on weekend activities with my 2 year old. We love messing up the kitchen together, though to be fair, the toddler also enjoys clearing up! This lady is also one of the most generous bloggers I have ever come across and she's currently working on her soon to be published book.
  • Just Another Mommy Blog - I heart this woman. There's this warm feeling you get when you read her posts. I think it's because she truly enjoys her role as a mom. Get this she has three blogs and homeschools all three of her children!
Now there are loads more blogs out there that I enjoy, however, this post was taking too long, so I just decided to go with the names that came to me first. I'll definitely be adding to the list going forward.

*I didn't not copy her blog name. I had already registered my blog and was searching for mommy blogs to understand how blogging worked when I came across this lovely mother of three.

**I have a confession to make. I read these blogs on my iPhone, when I'm patting my daughter to sleep every night. So even though I love them , I don't comment quite so much as I should. Sorry to you lovely bloggers, I adore you girls.

P.S.: I just realized I have no idea how blogging protocol works. I didn't bother to take the permission of these lovely women, I just linked their blogs and left a comment letting them know. Hope they don't get mad and ban me from their blogs. I doubt I'll survive the shame if that happens.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Star for an Hour

Today was another first for our company and me. The first time we were on air. Yes, we were interviewed on a radio show! (The techie has already been interviewed innumerable number of times on t.v. He has even been on the news. However, we'll forget all that for now and bask in our two minutes of attention.)

We had loads of fun, and I actually forgot all about being a mommy, wife and all those other things. The doctor, who was with me, was also a mother of two struggling to maintain some sort of balance in her chaotic life. We both left the home front to our husbands and raced out the door to have a fun morning with an early-twenty-something RJ, who showered us with compliments. We even had a mini photo shoot at the end (thank God, I wore my new Zara formal shirt and black diesel jeans) and got a lovely goodie bag. I did learn that I had to pick-up a little more on the local language though.

My mom heard the whole show (you can always count on them to be your biggest supporter and critic), while my daughter and husband listened in right through the pre-school routine. My angel was delighted to hear her mommy on the music box (I like to think a little more than see her daddy on t.v).

The show was a breakfast one and after each segment they play a popular tune. Half an hour into the show, they played a current favorite of my daughter's. When they finished the song and switched back to the interview, apparently my little angel is reported to have said "Daddy can you call mummy and ask her to talk later, I really want to just listen to the music"! So much for my soothing voice being the center of her existence.

Obviously, the CFO part of me came back to the office to find a bunch of tax returns on my desk. So, I bid a sad adieu to my two minutes of fame and got back to number crunching.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Little Things I Do For My Mommy

I hate being coped up in the house and my munchkin takes after me. So any free time we get together we grab our stuff and rush put the door. We do movies (we even do late night shows on the weekend), shopping, eating visiting the library, going crazy on the beach, you name it and we've done it. Given our current lifestyle most of this is just me and her time.

So it's a given that she accompanies me into public toilets. Like I've mentioned before, for all my dislike of staying home, I do love having my own loo. Unfortunately, I'm not rich enough to have one follow me around, and I have a relatively weak bladder, so I have to use the commonly available ones. I refuse to sit on the seat of a public toilet without using a liner (when available) or covering it with toilet paper and my daughter is well aware of this fact.

At home though I allow my bum to touch the bare toilet seat I always stock a few extra rolls of toilet on the bookshelf next to the toilet. This is in case the current roll runs out halfway through my requirement.

A couple of days back I was rushing into the washroom at home for a pee when my daughter decided to chat with me as I relieved myself. Her reasoning, "Mummy you tell me stories to help me poop, so I'll tell you a story to help you pee". Simple and difficult to refute. She noticed the empty toilet paper  holder and immediately picked up a fresh roll and replaced it. "Mummy some silly person forgot to keep you toilet paper ready". (No really! who in my train of maids could have possibly made that mistake?) Then she proceeded to tear of little squares of paper and lay them on the seat. I was in pain by then and politely asked her what in the world she was doing. "Mummy, I know you like a pretty seat so I'm decorating it for you to sit and pee".

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Discovering Pure Joy

I'm not talking about some swanky perfume. Hello, I'm a mummy, we don't indulge ourselves with such wasteful pleasures, or rather we pretend not to and do it on the sly.

What's more important is, this weekend I re-discovered true joy. Don't you remember the blissed out feeling that  used to wash over us once we handed in our last exam paper of the term and had 60 days of summer fun ahead. I unexpectedly had that experience after years.

We were having a family wine session on Saturday night. There was some dance music on, the adults were chattering away and the kids were going crazy trying to keep up with the music and their made up moves. All of a sudden my mom (who does not touch alcohol) nudged me and pointed at my daughter. My little angel was dancing, not her usual bounce, but real dance steps. Crossing her feet, doing a gentle wave with her arms and best of all she had this totally blissed out expression on her face. I can't explain how or why, but for the next 15 minutes I was as oblivious to my surroundings as my baby girl. Her pure joy in dancing some how transferred it self to me and I entered this trance like state of total contentment and serenity.

If this sounds too New Age to any of you, don't worry, it feels the same to me. This is not me, I'm an overworked, highly-stressed, over-analysing individual, like most moms of my generation.

However, for those 15 minutes I was in a place I thought had disappeared with my childhood.

When I came out of my trance I nudged the techie and pointed at the munchkin, with the hope that he would get a glimpse into paradise.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Peeing like a Big Person

I thought my little one was toilet trained and have been pretty free with her at home. Obviously, we have an agreement that she wear pull-ups when we are away from the home turf for more than an hour. She's fine with this since she hates public toilets and I'm paranoid about UTI (urinary tract infection) from using public toilets. Plus I have no intention of going diaper free at night till she's three and can get up in the middle of the night to pee. Apart from this she's toilet trained and hasn't even worn diapers to play-school for the past 6 months.

About two days back she did her usual "mummy pee" shout and I went rushing to get her to the potty on time. What I found, was her proudly hanging on to the proper toilet (with both hands) and standing in a puddle of pee. She gave me a big smile and said, "see mummy, I peed like a big person"!

Apparently, she saw my 6 year old nephew (I guess 6 looks big when you're two) peeing and thought she would prove herself in the same way. I obviously have a lot of explaining to do on 'how' and 'why' boy-girl peeing methods are different.

For the moment I just applauded and then explained to her that if we sit on the toilet we only have to wash our hands and not our whole body, so we save a lot of playtime. (Imagine, if she did the same in a public toilet! I wouldn't even know how to start cleaning those little hands.)

Any tips on how to tackle this? I definitely did not anticipate this stuff during parenting 101.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Should I Work with My Husband

The basis for today's post is an article I read in an entrepreneurial magazine titled "Should You Go Into Business with Your Spouse?" If you look at my previous entry on what working with my husband is like you'll see how this article hit the right note with me. The writer had quite a few relevant, noteworthy points. I decided to put my own spin on these points and share them with people who are thinking about partnering outside the house.

So try and answer these before you take the leap:
  • Is this what you really want and is it right for you?: I think this is the most important question to answer, since a lot of people do things for different reasons even when their instinct is not to go ahead with something. A strong factor to consider is the nature of your relationship, is it a case of opposites attract, peas in a pod or something entirely different. This analysis will let you know what to expect in a working relationship.
  • Why are you starting a business?: The reason you are getting into a business may change as you and the business grow over time. However, when starting you need to know if this is something you want to incorporate into your life for the foreseeable future or if you want to build a brand and sell it in the long run. 
  • Who's vision is it?: Both partners need to be on the same page when it comes to how and in which direction you want your business to head. Have you both agreed on the nature of the business and the method of operation? Do you share a common vision for your future business? If this isn't out of the way right at the beginning (at least on an outline basis) it could cause a bit of strife.
  • Are your expectations of work-life balance the same?: This is a potentially explosive area. It starts right from your concept of work ethics (can we check personal mail during working hours, can we work flexible hours) to who handles what responsibilities on the home front and how will you manage personal emergencies.
  • Map out areas of management and responsibility: This point may seem simple, since it's self-explanatory. However, when you have people joining your business as employees they will need clarity on the reporting hierarchy.
  • Can your relationship handle this arrangement?: The crucial question, obviously. Look at it this way, a lot of people have a baby to try and strengthen a relationship that may not be working. A new business s the same. Have a frank discussion on whether your relationship balance and status will withstand being combined with a working relationship.
Let me know what you make of this exercise. Was it useful? Do you have anything to add?

Next up:
  • Part 3 - My personal answers to these questions
  • Part 4 - Guidelines on establishing a working relationship with your spouse
 If you find this series too boring, let me know and I'll add an alert at the beginning of such posts.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Title of Substance

This was the third post I wrote on this blog. It was the first time I used a title that distilled the gist of what I was trying to convey (or at least I thought so). Most of my titles are pretty subject focused rather than substance focused (if that makes any sense). I hope I've piqued your interest enough to get you to read on.

"Wrong Shoes Mummy"

My mornings seem to be unbelievably busy, though all I do is feed my daughter breakfast and make her use the potty (my husband does this on my yoga mornings) before getting both of us ready. The rush is despite the fact that I organize all our clothes and other stuff the previous night.

I invariably lose my cool, when my daughter starts choosing what footwear she wants to wear to school. I mean she just turned 2 in April, isn't it too early for her to have a fashion sense? Anyway, this crazy morning rush was what caused one of my most uncomfortable days at work (since we started our own business).

It was a usual weekday morning and I had just about managed to get everyone in the car (we drop our daughter off at school on the way to work). The little one kept saying "Mummy, wrong shoes, wrong shoes". I shushed her with a "behave yourself" as I tried to feed her the cereal she had refused to eat at home. When we finally got to school she gave my husband a big hug and kiss before getting off. While I walked her to the gate, she had a last try "Mummy, your shoes are wrong" (she often gets mine and yours mixed-up). I ignored her comments and hugged her, she in turn gave me a kiss and a confused stare before heading indoors with her favorite teacher.

Half an hour later, I was holding my first discussion of the day in the corridor of our office, even before I reached my desk, when my accountant walked past and gave me a quizzical look. I smiled at her and continued the conversation. Throughout the day I kept getting these confused stares from people and couldn't figure them out. I finally found out why when I bent down to retrieve a fallen bill. Horror of horrors, I had worn my water-proof house-slippers, the variety with a red and black floral design to work!

While I was busy shushing her, my poor little baby was trying to save me from embarrassing myself at work. Now, I pay a lot more attention to her morning comments and try and stop myself from shushing her in general. I've realized one thing, she is totally focused on the moment, unlike her preoccupied mom.

I have a lot to learn from you my sweetheart.

Does the title suit the post? What title would you have used for this entry?

*Thank you to the SITS girls and their wonderful sponsors, sponsors, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances for getting me out of a blogging slump with this challenge.

This is Special. Care to Share?

As the second challenge of the Back to Blogging exercise by the girls at SITS, we were asked to chose one post which we wish more people had read. Well, for me there was no hesitation here. This is my favorite post to date and one I really want to share with a lot more people. So here it is again.

Doing It All Over Again

Today's is my little brother's 26th birthday and I miss being with him. Even though I'm married with a baby, I can't believe my little brother is in his twenties, a successful trader who I see once in three to six months. I've always considered him my first child and still call him baby within our family circle (he would never live it down if I called him that in public).

We always were and are very close and both of us never imagined that we would live apart. In fact not very long ago, probably about 10 years back, we used to have animated discussions over what our shared grown-up flat would be like. We both share a love of books, and the only arguments we have ever had are over who would read the latest Wilbur Smith first, though we are very different in other aspects. My relationship with this baby of mine has been a defining constant throughout my life. First, I was his second mommy, then his friend and sister and now we are semi-equals (he still listens to me) taking and giving each other advice, support and love.

This unconditional love of a sibling is what I want for my daughter. This is the reason that, even though we can't afford another child now, financially or otherwise (in terms of time), I feel strongly that we need to have at least one more. The best gift my parents ever gave me was my brother and my child deserves the same sort of support and companionship. This in my mind has way more value than any other inheritance I can ever give her. Even after we are gone, she will have family to love her and for her to love, an unbreakable lifelong bond.

So though this entry has gotten a little mushy, I have come to a conclusion. However, tough it's going to be to go through the nursing, sleepless nights, potty-training and time management exercises again, I want to do it. This is truly the best gift I can give my baby girl.

Happy birthday my darling first baby, you are in my thoughts always. I heavenly you.

As you can see I wrote this post from the heart. Though this is true with a lot of bloggers, for me it goes two ways. I may feel strongly about something, however my writing style can also be objective rather than subject if the topic is not a personal one.

Anyway, back to the topic of my favorite post. What do you feel? Am I an exception in this generation or the norm.

*I'd like to thank the generous sponsors of this challenge,   Standards of Excellence,Westar, and Florida Builder Appliances.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

At the beginning again

"Why did I start blogging?" it's something I ask myself when I'm stressed out and don't have enough time to dedicate to 'me' activities like blogging. The situation I am in (usually) when I voice the question is precisely why. I wanted to know that I'm not alone in struggling to reach my goals (on my tough days) and to share my triumphs on my good days. So with that little preamble here's my first ever post on this blog:

I'm The Working Mummy

Writing has always been my chosen form of self-expression. Up until I became a mom, writing in my diary was satisfying enough. But when I entered this new phase of life, I realized that I wanted to connect with other people who were going through the same stuff. And that's what I hope to do through this blog, make a whole bunch of new friends who can guide me or at the minimum commensurate and celebrate with me. 

Being a mummmy is by far the toughest thing I have ever had to do. I have a gorgeous and sweet-tempered baby, however I absolutely hated the first year of being a mom (more about that in another entry). I don't think my daughter is to blame for this, it's totally because of the kind of person I am:

- I love spending time on my own - reading, painting (you don't get much of this when you have a baby or toddler attached to you). Even after I got married, if my husband was busy I would happily take off to go have lunch at a coffee shop with just my book for company.

- I have to 'do' something fun or exciting everyday, or at least every weekend. I can't stand having one day be exactly like the next.

- I love working. I just can't be a housewife or a stay at home mom. I tried being a housewife for three months, during my first year of marriage. I drove my husband crazy and he begged me to go do whatever makes me happy.

Am I a freak or are there other mummy's out there like me? Can you love your baby with all your heart and still want to go to work, leaving her behind everyday. Because if I'm honest, though I need to work for the financial comfort it gives me, I also want to work (even though my husband is willing to be the sole breadwinner).

There you go, the real, naive me laid bare. I published this on the 23rd of April this year, so it's probably too early to analyze if I've grown as a writer. I did realize one thing, I use 'Mom' and Mum' interchangeably, what does that say about me?

I want to let you in on a little secret, the first EVER post that I have written was not on this blog. It's a private blog but I'm going to share it with you. The entry doesn't even have a title, it's just an outpouring of thoughts. Depending on the response to this, I just may continue with that blog. So her's the entry I wrote on 18th November 2009:

Don't you sometimes wish, the world could be a little dreamily blurred around the edges. I know we have to live with reality and I'm fine with that but there are moments when you want all the realism to recede a bit. Dreams don't have to be unrealistic, just a nicer life option that you could be striving towards. Take my dream job for example; I would be running a book store cum cafe, where we would have a story-telling corner, book clubs, neighbours dropping in for their morning caffeine fix and yummy mummies coming in for their weekly meet-ups(maybe I'll add on a play area for toddlers!). The everyday steps of working towards this dream job are not so dreamy. For now hubby and I have quit our jobs and are working on our healthcare start-up. We've always wanted to run a socially responsible business and this is our chance. So before I embark on my cafe owning business, we first need to make a success of our start-up company. Luckily, I enjoy running this business way more than my previous 9 to 5 (or rather 9 to 9) job.

The modern day dreamer's refuge seems to be the neighbourhood coffee shop. Why? Though my home is my sanctuary,it's more so during the evening, when my daughter's in bed reading a bedtime story with her daddy, I'm sipping on a cup of Moroccon Mint with a chick-lit novel and the whole world is getting ready to slip into the world of dreams. During the day, it's more of to-do lists, interacting with the in-laws and rushing of to work - the practicalities of living. At a coffee shop, you have soothing music being piped in, a calmish atmosphere and time to just enjoy the moment with your favourite beverage. I rest my case.

*I have the girls at SITS to thank for this 'back to blogging post'. This challenge is sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Going into Business with the Techie

We are finally done with the public launch of our company and I can get back to squeezing in some blogging time. I've just realized how hard it is to write again when you have been on a break. The ideas are there, however, the flow is not smooth. Any tips there? So here's my attempt at putting my thoughts down on paper (virtually).

When people realize that the techie and I run a business together, the first thing they ask is "What's it like to work with your husband? Don't you get tired of each other?" I used to wonder about the same thing when I heard of such situations, before we started our little venture, and now I finally have an answer.

I hate it, however I wouldn't trade it for the world. Confused, well so am I, so you can keep me company.

The techie handles marketing and projects, while I run operations and finance. Point is we are always fighting over our different areas of operation and can't help discussing work to the exclusion of all else, except our daughter. This means we have absolutely no personal time. Secondly, at least in the near future, we cannot take a holiday together. Due to the size, nature and newness (pardon the word) of our operations, one of us has to be on hand at all time. This means we take separate breaks, if we do get to take a break. Plus, we have to be completely reachable and ready to take decisions (with all relevant updates and information) even when on holiday.

The benefits are that we though work long and unusual hours, we can support each other in all aspects including child-care (though the onus for domestic arrangements falls on me and business arrangements fall on him).

At the end of the day, I don't know if I can ever go back to a regular job, were we see each other only at the end and beginning of the day, even if we get to take family vacations.

Example, last week the techie went on a break with the boys for two days. I had loads of work since I had to cover for him as well. However, I was bored out of my mind since I couldn't pick-up the inter-office phone and pick a fight with him!

Don't try to understand me, I'm too complicated even for me. All I can say is, it's literally a 'partnership' in every sense of the word for us.

P.S. - Have just decided that this will be the first in a mini-series of posts on working with your spouse. Who knows what enlightenment I may get from the introspection and my fellow bloggers.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Experience - Press Meet

Just wanted to share this with all of you. 

We had our first big press meet today. It was scary and exhilarating. Scary, since we have officially announced our name and  plans to the world and now have to deliver big time. Exhilarating, since all the work of the last one year is starting to taking shape. 

I will post more on this later. This entry was a quickie, just to share my 'high' with all you wonderfully supportive people. 

Stay tuned and keep rooting for us. I will definitely return the favour. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Philosophy - Who makes the rules

I'm not a philosopher by nature, nor do I enjoy politics, thought I love debating. However, there are times when I come across a certain type of thinking that makes me stop and ponder. Today, I decided to share one of those points of view that affect me a lot.

I read this in a Wilbur Smith novel*:
"There is terrorism from above - as well as from below...... If you define terrorism as extreme physical or physiological coercion used to induce others to submit to the will of the terrorist - there is the legal terror threat of the gallows, the religious terror threat of hell fire, the paternal terror threat of the cane - are those more morally justifiable than the aspiration of the weak, the poor, the politically oppressed, the powerless victims of an unjust society? Is their scream of protest to be strangled... Laws are made by man, almost always by the rich and the powerful - laws are changed by men, usually only after militant action."
What do you make of this reasoning? Especially when so many of us are parents?

Once your through thinking on that, read what comes later on, it's on the same topic:
"This is the test. No matter how much we personally feel the demands are just, yet we must oppose to the death the manner in which they are presented. If these people win their objects, it is a victory for the gun - and we place all mankind in jeopardy."

Writing is an art and writing which makes your readers think is a gift to them.

*I've reread all his novels at least 3-4 times and I learn something new every time. This guy writes from the heart and knows his subject intimately. I started reading his books when I was about 12-13 years old and still can't get enough.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Law and Order

I finally had an epiphany on why I haven't been able to blog regularly for the last month (excluding the vacation). It's because I don't manage my time well! Fine, I know it's not a a groundbreaking discovery, however, it does put me on the right path to getting rid of a lot of my stress.

What basically happens with me is - I start the day of fine, noting done all my tasks in order of urgency and importance. I even start working on the list with full concentration (I love striking of tasks from my list, so satisfying) and the best of intentions. Where I flounder is when an employee or family member interrupts and asks for my attention. I am totally unable to tell people to come back later. I have to resolve everybody's problems for them and before know it the day is over and I have over 70% of my incomplete list (to which loads of other stuff has been added during the day) staring back at me. In addition to this, I tend to get so involved when I have a writing task that I lose all track of time.

So basically at the end of the day, I rush home, feed my baby, play with her and put her to bed. The time I spend with her I'm totally focused on her, however if she takes time to doze off I get impatient because I still have to tackle my list and get it all done before the next day dawns.

See this is where I go wrong. I should be pressurizing adults to keep to a schedule, not a two year old who just wants some extra cuddle time with her mummy! So, I decided to bring in a clear time management technique to handle my day. Let me tell you there are so many techniques out there that you need to make a schedule just to go through all that information. I finally settled on two major tools that seemed simple and efficient.

The first one was pretty obvious, set out fixed time slots for:

  • Internal meetings
  • Interviews  
  • Meeting with visitors
Obviously, family members will be highly offended if I set out a time for them to get in touch with me. So had to accept those pleasant distractions as they were.

The second tool I stumbled across purely by chance and almost dismissed. It was managing your time in minutes! Come on I work 12-14 hours a day, that's an average of 780 minutes. I was pretty skeptic about this, until I read that the world's best lawyers, who bill their clients by the hour use this technique to track and manage their time. I was sold, come on, if it's good for top-notch lawyers, it's good enough for me.

This is how the concept basically works. You split your hour in batches of 7to 10 minutes and then assign parts of a schedule task for each slot. Over the course of the day you finish all your tasks. Apparently this method keeps your mind fresh and alert since you spend limited time focusing on each task at any point of time. Obviously, if you have pressing deadline you need to tweak the system a bit.

Anyway, I've listed out my major tasks for today and am all set. Obviously, the first ten minutes are up, since I use them to write this entry. Wish me luck and I'll let you know how things work out. Who knows maybe I'll  use this to manage my mommy/wife time as well!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back on Track

I haven't forgotten my bloggy world. The muchkin and I just had an unexpected holiday. We took off on the spur of the moment for my parent's home and things just got more and more hectic from there.

Well, we are back now and I'm going to start reconnecting, so please don't walk away and forget about me. This world is what keeps me sane on the regular days.

Here are the highlights of our mini-vacation:

  • The munchkin and me had a playdate with another blogger friend (her's is a private blog) and her adorable tot.
  • We visited Atlantis and another underwater zoo with the grandparents. I was more excited than the little one!
  • Shopped, shopped and shopped
  • Watched "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "The Joneses
  • I lost about 7 pounds with no effort! Unfortunately have put back 4 of those in the last two days.
That's the round-up for now. Watch this space for regular posts from tomorrow.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Introducing Simple Foods: Garlic Labneh and Three Cheese Dip

I'm not much of a cook and when I do enter the kitchen it's because something has caught my fancy and I am suddenly dying to try it. I won't tell you that all this changed when my daughter was born, however, I learnt to be a lot more creative in the kitchen.

The munchkin has weird eating habits, for a baby/toddler/child. She'll eat any diary product (is addicted to milk, any type), loves all fruit and veggies. The problem with her are carbs. She hates white carbs. The only form of carbohydarets she'll eat are hi-fibre ones - weetabix (with/without milk), mutli-grain cereal mixes, granary bread, wheat noodles - with pasta being the only exception. Though recently she has accepted rice and white bread, I still have a tough time getting her to eat a satisfactory (for me) helping of carbs everyday. So, to help her along a little bit, I started experimenting with simple stuff that she seems to love.

A couple of weeks back I was chatting with one of my friends, who also has a picky eater, when I realized that maybe what I've learn't along the way will help other mom's in a similar position. So here's the first of my simple food posts.

The munchkin loves dips of any kind and this gave me an idea. When she's doing her raw foods or high-fibre thing, why don't I give her a dip that rounds of the meal with protein and fat. So, here are two dips that I serve her and the suggested accompaniments.

Since I grew up on Lebanese food, this is my baby friendly version of labneh.


Serves: 2 hungry toddlers

  • 2 cups plain/greek yoghurt
  • 1 clove of garlic - finely chopped
  • A tsp of lemon juice (optional) or gated lemon rind - we like some tartness around here
  • A pinch of sweet paprika powder (optional) - my nephew likes this addition
  • 5 - 10 de-seeded black olives or stuffed green olives
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil 
  1. Hand the yoghurt in a muslin cloth, till most of the whey drips out. This should take between 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the initial consistency of the yoghurt.
  2. Once the thickened yoghurt is ready, gently mix in the finely chopped garlic and paprika powder.
  3. Just before serving, add the lemon juice/rind to the mixture and stir.
  4. Decorate the mixture with the olives, top with the olive oil and serve.
Serving suggestion
  • Serve as a dip for sticks of fresh carrot and cucumber, and wedges of firm fresh tomatoes.

This second dip is a twist on the traditional crackers and cheese combination.

Serves: 3 - 4 toddlers, depending on how much they scoop up or spread all over themselves.

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 slices of sandwich cheese - tear into bits
  • 1 cup grated cheese - Gouda, Cheddar (any mildly mature cheese) - can also be chopped into little bits
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan
  • 2 cups milk - adjust according to preferred dip consistency
  • 1 tbsp oregano/Italian seasoning
  • Red chilly flakes (for adults or older kids)
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat.
  2. Add the milk to the melted butter and keep stirring occasionally.
  3. When the milk is boiling well, add the bits of cheese slice. 
  4. Once the cheese slices have melted, add the grated cheese.
  5. After all the cheese has completely melted take of the stove, mix in the oregano and chilly flakes. Set aside till warm (safe for little fingers).
  6. Garnish with the the Parmesan, top with some more seasoning (if required) and serve.
Serving Suggestion
  • Serve as a dip with Crackers - we prefer crispy wheat or rye.
  • Serve on top of slices of toasted baguette or plain toasted bread cut into quarters (a good use for slightly old dried out bread) and decorated with cherry tomato halves.
  • Serve with garlic bread. 
Let me know how you adapt these recipes to suit your little ones. I'm always on the look out for foodie innovation.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The List - I miss, I love, I look forward to

This is something everybody in my family knows about me - I love making lists. The techie says that I love my holiday 'what to pack' list more than the actual vacation. The first thing I do every morning at my desk (after 20 seconds of quiet time to focus) is make a task list for the day. (Secret: I then spend 15 minutes in blog land. Which none of my employees know about.) Let me add this is the only part of the day when I use a pencil/pen - there's nothing as satisfying as writing down a list. Also, I tried doing it on my laptop but had to keep the document open thorough the day to refer.

To feed this fetish of mine I have decided to do a list based entry, once in a way. No, no, don't close the page. These are not going to be boring lists, rather they will give you glimpses of the real me (is that part of the boring stuff) and maybe I can do some linky stuff with these posts, as well.

The inspiration for my first post came from this lovely blogger, 'Life as a CEO'. Hope she doesn't mind me being a copy cat. Anyway, the aim is to list what you currently MISS, LOVE and LOOK FORWARD TO at this point in your life. I'm going to limit myself to five points each to stop from writing a whole book.

So without further ado, here's my list:

  • I miss....
    • My family - we are very close knit, however, we live in three different countries now.
    • High school - best period of my life. Does that make me sad? What I really miss from that time is, the lack of serious responsibility, my friends, the plans for my perfect future and being confident of who I was and what I was doing.
    • Me time - reading alone at coffeeshops, art, spa visits, getting up late on weekend mornings. I still get a bit of all this thanks to my husband, however it isn't the same.
    • Having spare cash -  a baby and a new business tend to be priority when it comes to shelling out the notes. More the business than the baby.
    • Travelling - I've had vacation breaks every 2-3 months since I was a child. In fact, the little one and I took about 20 plane rides in her first year. It seems as if we are compensating for all that now (I haven't left the city for almost a year). 
  • I love...
    • My family - I have more people to love and more people who love me. I can describe myself as a daughter, sister, wife and mom - makes me feel special (I know it's silly. I'm one among billions of such women).
    • Working with my husband in our own business - it's not perfect, and there are days when I wish we hadn't got into this. However, every morning when I get up I look forward to coming in to work, so it's definitely right for me.
    • Planning our future - I spend quite some time drawing up detailed plans!
    • Partly homeschooling my daughter - though the techie and I work full-time and can't really homeschool the munchkin,. We plan to supplement the standard school syllabus with some fun stuff of our own. We have already started with reading and math, next up are museum and art gallery visits.
  • I look forward to...
    • My dream house - we have a lovely house of our own now. However, I have been planning my dream house for the last year or so and hope to build it before my baby turns ten. I've even done the layouts and cost estimates, though I haven't figured in inflation. 
    • Seeing more of the world - we plan to travel all around the world, hopefully with the whole family, and spend one month every year living in a different country.
    • Writing a book - haven't decided what it's going to be about. My blog is where I sharpen my writing skills. Any tips?
    • Running a half-marathon - I was running pretty regularly before I decided to have my baby. This also has me looking forward to getting fit again.
    • Painting again - I plan to make some time, maybe about a year down the line, and go back to this old love of mine.  
So, that's my first list. It was pretty easy to write. I'm sure the moment I publish it, I'll think of 5 more points I should have included. Did you find it boring or insightful? Have I inspired you to make one of your own? Let me know if you do and I'll come over and take a peek into the real you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Unexplained Love

When I read a novel that is based on human relationships I always wonder if the author has experienced firsthand what they have written about. Plots based on action, adventure or historical fiction can be researched and then the skill of the writer gives life to the story. However, in the case of a storyline based on human emotions, unless the author understands his character like an actor preparing for a part, the story fails to touch the reader. In the case of Cecelia Ahern, I have had the same impression right from her first book. Though after reading "P.S. I Love You", which was way better than the ones that followed, it was obvious that here was a girl who has never been married.

To cut to the chase, her current book, "Thanks for the Memories", can be compared to a box of half and half. The rich creamy part is where she describes the central character's relationship with her father. The interchanges are realistic and the scenes well crafted. The thin milky part is the attempt at creating a love story. The romantic bits are uninspiring and there seems to be no sense of chemistry between the hero and heroine (to put it loosely).

Warning: The next bit may contain spoilers, so if you plan on reading the book or are a die hard Cecelia Ahern fan please don't read further.

Though the author has done some basic research on an unexplained phenomenon, it seems like she hasn't convinced herself of it's existence. A woman in her thirties has an accident a requires an urgent blood transfusion. Post procedure she has flashes of memory that don't come from her life - a young girl growing up,  the deterioration of a marriage, the loss of a parent - as well as a whole bunch of facts and knowledge that she has never studied or come across before. The story tries to convert this weak link into a full-blown love-at-first-sight story, which just doesn't stick. In addition, the woman is confused about her identity and sees herself as two people, the potential girlfriend and the recipient of the donor's blood. The supposedly romantic scenes are dragged out with the heroine's reasoning bordering on stalkerish and illogical. With the whole plot coming to a convoluted but predicable ending, this book is definitely not worth spending your leisure time on.

P.S. - This is something I just read. The T.V. series, Samantha Who, was co-created by Cecelia Ahern. I love this series. So the author has just been redeemed in my eyes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Office Romance

Last Wednesday was one of the rare days that the techie and I actually worked together for a while during office hours. We had to accompany the brand consultants on a site tour of a couple of our satellite centers. The weather was great since we had a mild drizzle which helped cool off the city, after a terribly hot week, and we where getting to spend sometime outdoors. In addition, designing and building the brand is one of the most creative and interesting aspects of running a business, which is what the exercise was aimed at. So I was already feeling quite chirpy.

Our brand consultant and design expert are really interesting people to hang out with and we had a productive   morning. We finished around lunch time by when I was starving, so we decided to splurge on a nice lunch, since most of our lunches are a 20 minute run-eat-run back routine during which we update each other on our areas of operation. We drove around looking for a new place to eat and ended up at this lovely little restaurant with a picture window looking out on to the beach. After lunch we strolled down to a local ice-cream shop and had  dessert. Though we ended up discussing the morning's work and our schedule for the rest of the day it was still some nice couple time, which we hadn't got in a while.

This episode has taught me to stay alert for opportunities in the future. Time is what we make of it and this little interlude will keep me going for a month at least.

I have to add that when we got back to the office we had a heated argument on the finances. However, all through that discussion I was actually smiling in my head.

P.S.- Did my title mislead you? Hey I'm married and not into extra marital affairs. Plus, the techie is the best looking guy at work (I'm not biased).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Working Mummy Learns: Deal On

Since I'm being buffeted and torn apart by the winds that frequent the corridors of power (will go into that in another post), I decided to make the most of it by sharing a few tips on running a business. I don't claim to be an expert or a master of past experience, what I have to offer are just little bits and bobs that just might help someone in a similar situation. So, for all of you out there who are running their own business or planning to do so, this is one of the first lessons I learnt.

There are a number ways to get benefits from suppliers other than direct discounts.

I learnt this lesson after spending an average of 50 hours a week talking to equipment manufacturers and retailers who deal in medical supplies. Initially, I was focused on getting the best deal through a direct reduction of the quoted price. Most suppliers figure this into the equation when they give you the first quote, so to an extent I was able to get what I wanted. However, the final pricing didn't really give me a cost advantage over my competitors. That's when I sat down with my techie and asked him how he handled such situations.  Suffice to say we had a long discussion over dinner and my daughter's bath time and this is what I came away with:
  • Focus on optimizing your overall cost rather than getting a flat-out discount. An ideal example would be a upgrade in the product chosen at the cost of the original product. - If you are going in for a desktop computer you could ask for a newer version of the Windows operating system at the original price quoted. - Obviously, you need to see value in the offer and not just go for the first thing you can get.   
  • Workout a long term package, focusing on services, instead of a one time benefit on your actual purchase. - When getting your phone system set up, ask for a year's free warranty (over and above what comes with the package) and AMC services at a discounted rate.   
  • Try to get complimentary products / services free or at a concessional rate, in the place of a price reduction on the main product - Speak to your interior decorator about getting your blinds and carpets for free when she gets your whole interior contract.
In order to ensure that you don't get taken for a ride when you work on these offers, always do your homework. Some points your research could cover are:

  • Quotes from at least three suppliers who deal in the same product. The brand can be different, if you can't get dealers who sell the same brand. Ensure that you get the initial price and a price after a couple of rounds of negotiation (just talking on the phone can get you some great deals).
  • Speak to a few existing customers and get details on the deals they got.
  • Research prices on different qualities, models and accessories for the product. This will help you ask for those upgrades and complimentary products.
Actually, after writing this post I realized that we mummies can use these tips with the little angels. For example "Sweetheart, instead of going to bed after 5 minutes, why don't we snuggle up and read an extra story." So you basically have them where you want them and it's easier to get them to sleep after the last story, instead of starting the get into bed process all over again after 5 minutes. At least I hope things work that way.

Let me know what you think. Do you have any other ideas for me?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sprinkles, sparkle and hospitals

I am guilty of the neglecting this fun, virtual sanctuary of mine for real life. After moaning about my lack of social life, the last 10 days have been crazy - good and bad. Here's what I've been up to:
  • Our big anniversary dinner with the whole family (about 25 people)
  • A 50th anniversary celebration for a family friend's of ours - the pre-dinner speeches revealed a lot of previously unknown information about the special couple
  • Spending some quality time with my parents, who were down for a visit - actually my daughter monopolized them
  • A two year old's birthday party at a 100 year old club - I had one of the toughest workout's of my life running after my daughter and nephew all over the massive park
  • A house warming party - great business networking opportunity
  • A film premier to launch my cousin's new movie theater chain - the movie was cliche, however it was fun to dress up a bit, plus the sound system was great
  • A visit to the emergency room when the little one suddenly started running a high fever and screaming that her tummy hurts - we had a traumatic ultrasound session interspersed with bouts of vomiting, followed by a suppository. Not the best day   
All this clubbed with 12 hour (at a minimum) work days, makes for a pretty exciting life. I could start getting used to all the glamour and glitz, obviously sans the hospital visit. Sadly, all I have lined up for the month of July is a 6th birthday party for my nephew and the official media launch of our business, which is not as glamorous as it sounds and just means more work.
I have such bouts of activity (apart from the work part, which is pretty standard) only once in 3 or 4 months. So I'm expecting things to go back to the boring old status quo soon.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

5 years and more to look forward too

Tomorrow I celebrate 5 years of marital bliss (well mostly) with the love of my life. In these 5 years I've learnt a lot about love, life, maturity, mummyhood and being myself. Some of the lessons have been sweet, others a bit tough to swallow and a few have been bittersweet. But what all of them have  in common, is the lesson that every individual is continually growing and we need to give ourselves and our family the opportunity to enjoy the growth.

My husband and I are together on our anniversary after 3 years (yes, we have celebrated only one anniversary together since we got married), so this year is all the more special. I am lucky to have married the first boy I ever fell in love with and I'll never take that for granted. So today's entry is just to thank my husband for being who he is, the best husband ever, a loving son and son-in-law, a supportive brother and brother-in-law and a dedicated dad who dotes on his daughter.

Thank you honey, for:

  • never judging me (When I wanted to enjoy a book and coffee, he learned to read quietly at coffee shops even though he wasn't really a book person and hated to eat alone)
  • being my friend and mentor (He helped me write my first real resume and I'm always told by interviewers that it is extremely professional)
  • letting me learn things at my own pace (When we were dependent on my cooking, he ate whatever I cooked or if I just didn't want to enter the kitchen he was happy cooking himself or ordering takeaway)
  • always being on my side (I can't give enough examples of this one. He has always been my techie in shining armour.)
  • always sharing the parenting responsibility equally (He could take care of the little one for a whole day and night before she was one. Giving her a bath, changing nappies, giving her the bottle, soothing nightmares, he did it all.)
My partner in life and love, without you my life would have a far poorer version of it's happy self.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Juvenile Diaries

I was excited after watching SATC 2 and decided to jump right into The Carrie Diaries. I should have tempered my expectations, considering:
  • Sex and The City was the only Candace Bushnell novel I didn't really enjoy.
  • There are no false promises about this being another fashionable, fun book. The back cover does state that the book is Carrie's coming of age story.
Though I obviously didn't go in thinking that this was about a 25 year old, I also thought that considering the writer's target audience it would have a chick lit kind of approach with a twist. Boy, was I disappointed. The story line and narration is one step above the Baby Sitter's Club (btw, I loved this series). Meaning if you were a preteen year old allowed to read the Baby Sitter's Club, you would actually be reading the Carrie Diaries in secret. I not sure the book will even appeal to teens who read stuff like the 'Twilight' series.

Maybe the book didn't appeal to me because the circumstances of my childhood were as different as possible from the one described there. There's a bit of teen angst, some boy trouble and a few bitchy girls. The storyline is tired and sounds recycled.

Anyway, here's the basic outline for those of you who want to know a bit more. Carries, who's part of a mildly dysfunctional family (even this aspect isn't strong enough to be interesting), lives in small town America and is desperate to get into a writing program. Our heroine's dad wants her to pursue a more intellectual field of study and she's torn between making him happy and following her dreams. Her close circle of friends don't exactly fit in with the nerds or the cool cliques at school. The bunch of friends try to make their mark in their last year of school with each member ultimately choosing their own path into adulthood. After being back stabbed by her best friend (I won't tell you how, or it might give away the story) our favourite girl decides to focus on getting out of her current stagnant life and into her dream one. She also gets better acquainted with one of her former high-school enemies, who actually helps her along the path to moving to her beloved New York.

Carrie doesn't come across as a unique character , expect for her desire to become a writer. The instinct to move to the Big Apple and write is the only link between the this character and the one in the SATC series. The part I liked best were the last few lines of the book, where another one of our iconic four is introduced (can't tell you more).

This is one mystery I just can't seem to solve. When SATC is one of my favourite shows (I also liked the movies, especially the second one.) I don't get why the original book or this one didn't hold my interest. I love Candace Bushnell's other books like '4 Blondes' and 'Trading Up'. Need to think on this, the analysis may help me become a better writer, or not.

Well those are my thoughts. Now tell me , what you thought of the book and the original SATC novel? Feel free to let me know if I'm completely out of touch with what most people like. Hey, this doesn't mean I'll stop my book reviews, however I just might view future books a little differently.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weekday Flip-off

If everyone out there thought only employees need to sound off on what a pain the workplace has been this week, think again. Here's what's been getting me down (please refrain from smiling smugly and instead empathize):

  • People who insist on post dated cheques with the date space being left blank. Hello! did you just hear yourself saying post DATED cheque!
  • Sly thieves who go around flicking air-conditioning units, copper wires, digital mouses (is this right) and keyboards. People who don't want to take responsibility for the equipment they use and create opportunities for such thefts to happen.
  • IT engineers who claim that they are waiting for a sample to create an online leave application form. This after:
    • The person in question has just got back from a 2 week vacation (for which he applied using the said paper form).
    • I spent a whole afternoon designing an administration system with them (of which this is just a part of module one). "When are we going to get the whole system up and running? (Were you there in the meeting when we fixed deadlines?)"
  • Conflicts between finance and administration. My common response:
    • "Yes, you have to go to these people (accounts) for the money, even if I have approved the spend."
    • "Yes, I do trust you, but the auditors don't trust anybody."
    • "Budgets apply to every department. No department is above finance."
  • Vendors who deliver the equipment to your location and forget to send the engineer along. "The agreement says payment is 90 days from the date of installation. Send in your technical team and then I'll speak to your accountant. I don't care if you are from a different department, I'm from a different company." (I know I mentioned vendors before, bear with me).
  • Government organizations that take 6 months to complete a 3 month audit and inspection, because they're too cheap to pay for their staff to travel for one client, and try to batch process everything.
  • Front office staff who:
    •  FORGET to take down contact information for walk-in customers.
    • Accidentally misplace feedback forms (which I'm guessing didn't favour them)
  • Equipment finance company representatives who ask the 'CEO and Founder' (this is what he was introduced as):
    • What his interest in the company is?
    • Whether they can have the financials of our angel investors (a private investment fund)?
I will now stop ranting and raving, since I have to get back to work. However, be forewarned, I am going to set aside one day a month for work related vents. Please feel free to join me or chastise me.

Are you totally happy with your colleagues, employees, vendors and customers or do you have some secret / not-so-secret grudges. Feel free to shout out here. Come on, make me feel like I'm not a total biotch.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Marriage is not a Job"......"But it's Hard Work"

I know the release of SATC 2 has been done to death in the girlie blog space, however, I think for each viewer it has it's own relevance (or lack of), so please bear with me. The advantage of being one of the last bloggers to review this movie (we get most Hollywood movies, at least a month after the international release) is that I can give a bit of the story away.

Warning: The last bit may contain spoilers.

The movie was my birthday treat to myself. It was pretty unexpected. I had actually resigned myself to missing the theater shows and watching it at home, since Sunday tickets are extremely difficult to get, for any movie here. It was a packed Saturday at work and I was racing like mad to catch-up, when all of a sudden three meetings were cancelled and I had more than three unplanned hours on my hands. Added benefits, the toddler was at home with the sitter, having her afternoon nap and the husband was tied up with his own set of meetings. So with no man along to pass snide comments or a munchkin who demanded toilet breaks, I set off for three hours of girl time. If I may say so myself, best birthday gift this year.

I wrote this blog entry in my head as I watched the movie (is that weird) and changed the beginning at least twenty times. I am a big SATC fan, however after watching the first movie, I was pretty sure that I would have outgrown the concept and this time I just went along with no expectations. I have to state - the sequel is better than the first movie and  SATC has grown-up with it's viewers. I could actually relate to three of the four characters. Hey! I can never relate to Samantha, though she's fun to watch.

The movie was balanced between the new and the old. Here was Carrie maturing and finally getting what a real marriage was all about,  while Samantha's character stayed true to form. Miranda moves on from her all consuming job to achieve a better work life balance, while Charlotte gives up a bit of her family time to create more 'me' time.

Then only people in the theatre who seemed disappointed were those in the 18-25 category. They felt that the story was'nt SATCish enough nor did it have any decent fashion (they maybe right here). Though Carrie has moved on from Manolo's to Louboutins.

These are the dialogues that really stayed with me (I may not be a 100% right on who said what and the actual wordings):

Charlotte: Marriage is not a job.
Miranda: Yes, but it's hard work.

Miranda: Being a mother is tough.
Charlotte: How do moms who have no help do it?

Samantha: I go to children's birthday parties for you. You are going to Abu Dhabi for me.
Miranda: Children's birthday parties, pulling out the big guns.

Samantha: We made a deal ages ago. Men, babies, doesn't matter. We are soul mates.

Carrie: You have to take the tradition and decorate it your way.

Charlotte: My first thought when I heard Samantha say Harry might cheat on me with Erin was, " Oh my God, I can't lose the nanny".

And it doesn't get more real that that ladies.

I think even my husband will enjoy the movie, once (I hope). He'll definitely like the sound track, 'True Colours' is one of his all time favourite songs.

There were a few goof-ups. One being a scene set in Abu Dhabi (actually Morocco), where the girls are urging Samantha to cover up, while there were bikini clad women in the background! Didn't expect that lack of attention to detail. The second one being, were the script writer inadvertently implies that the only reason a husband won't have an affair with a hot nanny is if she's a lesbian. Hello, please credit our men with a little morality here.

On the whole a truly enjoyable movie, where mature relationships, fun and a little bit of (not so great fashion) mix into a yummy cocktail. Might even get myself a copy of this one.